Friday, March 4, 2016

New Panama Canal Locks Tested

By Mark Edward Nero

The Panama Canal has announced that Grupo Unidos por el Canal, the consortium responsible for the design and construction of the Third Set of Locks Project, has successfully completed testing of the reinforcements in sill no. 3 of the CocolĂ­ locks.

GUPC technical personnel, the designers and Panama Canal Authority specialists monitored the testing process, which consisted of gradually raising the water behind the lock gate to the level in which the seepage was first detected in sill no. 3 last year.

The Panama Canal Authority revealed last September that during stress testing of new locks for the Panama Canal, water seepage was found in a specific area of the new Pacific Ocean-side locks in a section separating the middle and lower chambers.

The localized seepage was determined to be the result of insufficient steel reinforcement in the area that was subjected to stress from extreme condition testing. After examination of all the other sills in both lock complexes, GUPC stated that in addition to reinforcing the sill that presented the issue, it would also reinforce the sills in the first two sets of locks as a preventative measure, even though the sills have not presented any issue.

Later, the testing was inspected by a team of independent experts, professors and structural engineers from the Technological University of Panama, all of whom expressed satisfaction with the final results, the Panama Canal Authority said in mid-February.

Currently, the Authority said, the project manager is testing the electromechanical components necessary for the expanded Canal to operate.

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.

Less than four percent remains to complete the overall project, according to the Authority; an inauguration is planned for later this year.