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Tests on major bridge after alleged false results

Hong Kong government is carrying out non-destructive testing on the massive Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge after arrests were made in connection with allegations that concrete cube test results had been falsified.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) arrested two senior executives and 19 staff members from a contractor working for the government’s Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) for alleged corruption in relation to claims of false concrete compression test reports.

Now the government’s Highways Department is seeking to “further ease the concern of the public” by announcing it is carrying out non-destructive testing on the bridge and three additional structures.

The tests are being carried out on the bridge’s decks, piers, buildings and tunnel structures to verify the strength of the concrete.

Priority is being given to areas of the bridge which are in “stress-critical” locations.

The government said that so far, the tests had complied with the required standard but some results had yet to come in.

“Up to now, all the testing results show that the tested structures are all in compliance with the required standard and the testing is ongoing,” it said.

“In addition, the resident site staff had completed by yesterday (May 23) all the visual inspections on the structures under the three projects and confirmed that the structures were in sound conditions and no abnormalities (such as structural cracks) were identified.”

As part of the investigation, the Standing Committee on Concrete Technology of the CEDD is also reviewing the testing and sampling methods being used by the Highways Department.

The investigation into the alleged corruption is centring on concrete compression tests carried out by a contractor. The ICAC said there was a requirement for tests for each sample to be conducted within a set time frame and all concrete test cubes were required to pass the test. But investigators have claimed that some of the tests were not done in the set time frame and there are allegiations that times on the testing machines might have been changed.

ICAC allegations also claim that some of the laboratory staff might have replaced the test cubes with using a metal calibration cylinder and/or high strength concrete cubes to falsify the tests, making them appear to have been conducted properly.

The ICAC issued statement said: “According to ICAC investigation, the malpractice mentioned in the press release concerned only the contractor of the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) and its staff members. There is no information or evidence to suggest that any public officers, contractors or material suppliers (or their personnel), other than the CEDD contractor and its staff members, were involved in the above malpractice.”

The Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is a massive £1.8bn project which will link Hong Kong with Zhuhai City in Guangdong Province and Macao in China. The project includes a 29.6km dual three lane carriageway in the form of bridge and tunnel crossing comprising a 6.7km tunnel, three cable stay bridges, connecting viaducts, two artificial islands for the tunnel entrances west of the Hong Kong boundary and associated works including civil and structural works.


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