Friday, December 4, 2015

Panama Canal Authority: Leaks Fixed Next Month

By Mark Edward Nero

Repairs of leaks detected in the newly constructed third set of locks of the long-awaited Panama Canal expansion are expected to be completed in January, the contractor overseeing the project said Nov. 28.

During a joint press conference with the Panama Canal Authority, contractor Grupo Unidos por el Canal said that ongoing work to reinforce the sills in the new locks should be complete by the end of next month.

As part of its remaining work, Grupo Unidos por el Canal is conducting inspections and reinforcements of each individual sill. It also plans to continue the electromechanical testing on the filling and emptying systems of the new locks.

The additional work became required after stress testing of new locks for the Panama Canal revealed water seepage in a specific area of the new Pacific Ocean-side locks in a section that separates the middle chamber and lower chamber.

Despite the setback, the expansion project has now reached 95 percent completion, according to the Canal Authority, and work continues in other areas of the project.

The $5 billion Panama Canal expansion is expected to allow post-Panamax ships to travel through the canal en route to East Coast terminals, thereby bypassing the US West Coast. It was initially scheduled to be complete in 2014 to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the opening of the existing canal, but snafus have delayed the completion by two years so far.