there a conscious and deliberate decision taken, in 2014, to cover up an
incident involving the collapse of a cinder block wall at Roncalli School?
knew of the incident? And who took the decision to bury the issue?
questions are just a beginning.
would argue safety at a school is an imperative?
seems not everyone.
government chose to permit Roncalli School, located in the Airport Heights area
of St. John’s, to continue to function even as it underwent reconstruction on a
a school and a construction zone at the same time. That decision held inherent
risks, and not just with respect to the additional cost of carrying on a major construction project on an occupied premises.
combining two incompatible activities demanded the highest possible safety
standard for the 410 students enrolled K to Grade 6, distributed throughout 21
classrooms; the statistics provided on the School’s web site.
Dunderdale and then Education Minister Clyde Jackman announced the $20.7 million project for Roncalli Elementary School, in 2012. Jackman was quoted in the
|cinder block wall prior to collapse|
Statement stating the “…project will see the construction of a large extension
as well as the redevelopment of the existing school.
include a new food service area, a gymnasium, and 20 new classrooms, while the
redevelopment will reconfigure space to include four new classrooms, a
multi-purpose/lunch room and a resource centre.”
continued: “The work will be carried out in two phases, with the extension
expected to be complete by September, 2014, and the redeveloped section by
opening date became imminent, in September 2014, the English Language School
District told parents, in a Letter, that the board will not open the school
until Monday, Sept. 8; a week later than other schools. The CBC, reporting on the delay, said “Part of the
school remains a construction zone, and fences
will be erected to prevent children from gaining access.”
have been left with the impression not just readiness but safety was a matter
of paramount concern to the school board.
two weeks after the school opened, on Sunday, September 21st 2014, that
tested any such preoccupation. The incident brings into question those who had knowledge
of the incident – their judgement possibly as deficient as the cinder block wall
that disintegrated on that windy afternoon.
block wall was two storeys high and measured 25 feet by 50
Contractor’s Report, found by this Blogger, stated an employee “entered the
site at 5:42 pm, Sunday September 21, 2014 and noticed that the wall had
collapsed”. Winds, “at that time”, were estimated at between 40-60 km.
The Contractor’s Report is important for two reasons. First, it proves there was plenty of time to warn of the need to close the school and to advise the parents and the public of what had occurred.
|collapsed wall: “workers didn’t take time to dowel in rebar
or ensure plates that were attached…”
Of course, if wind was the sole reason for the collapse of the wall the
secrecy would still not be justified.
“workers didn’t take time to dowel in rebar or ensure that plates were attached
It did not say anything about supervision or inspections but then that was not its purpose.
cinder block wall was partially completed but had not collapsed.
contractor’s man reported the incident, government Inspectors had not written
the contractor a “stop work” order.
works by the time the school opened on Monday morning.
instruction was permitted to continue in the absence of a Report, from either a
qualified or an independent entity, detailing why the wall had collapsed or if
the building was safe for entry. Government was in possession only of a report
prepared by the contractor.
as to whether other newly constructed concrete block walls on the premises were
built sub-standard and at risk of collapse, too.
drill rig Husky suspended operations pending an investigation.
incident”; the whole site is shut down.
|No sign of 15M dowels tying wall to foundation|
experienced a significant incident with major safety implications.
legislation, include emails and a Report by a structural engineer who investigated after the school children were in their
seats for most of the day.
contractor to public servants and contractor personnel and to consultants, confirms
remediation work on the second wall had not even begun by that time. QUOTE:
temporary supporting the block wall from the inside on Level 2 with wood
bracing. This will assist with any amount of force being applied from the outside.
We will also be installing wind barriers to assist any force being applied from
the inside. Currently, the bent plate is not installed at level 2 or the roof
not occur until the “afternoon of September 22, 2014”.
observations of the Contractor’s Report.
But the Structural Engineer adds:
wall stood approximately two storeys high without any lateral support. It is
also noted that another portion of block wall, located on Line Y5 between Lines
X15 and X25, was partially constructed, similar to the wall that collapsed, but
did not experience the same outcome.
collapse, several structural deficiencies were identified in the wall that
collapsed. These deficiencies, however, were not the direct cause of the
collapse. The wall collapse occurred because it was not adequately braced at
the time of the wind event. The contractor did not provide sufficient bracing
to stabilize the wall, during construction, and as a result the high wind
speeds caused the wall to become unstable and topple over.”
prior to the collapse:
epoxy set into the existing foundation wall, as specified on structural Section
1/7.10, were not installed.
used to tie the block walls to the floor beams, as specified on structural
Detail 1/7.10, were not installed.
the block walls to the steel columns, as specified on structural Detail 6/7.04,
were not installed.
The wall was not tied in to the main structure at any location: the roof, foundation,
floor beams or columns.
a worker (or a child) was walking (or playing) in the area.
that day, but some other?
was strictly adhered to or was it merely “fixed” with bracing? It is too late
to properly tie the wall to the
foundation once it is erected.
inspection, should we not ask what else might have been overlooked on that
|excavator begins to clean up rubble from wall. note the time the image taken 9:10am.|
This Blogger has learned that the scene of the collapsed wall
quickly disappeared from view; the cinder block rubble cleaned up and disposed
of. One photograph shows the excavator removing the rubble at 9:10 am. that Monday morning. The photographs, at least to an experienced eye, also expose the
essential missing parts of a sound and safe concrete cinder block structure.
construction site was unattended?
afternoon? It was windy that Monday, too.
children were actually permitted onto the site and into their classrooms, in
the absence of a thorough inspection by qualified people, has no hypothetical
underpinning. It is a fact. It happened.
announce publicly the reason, else someone authorized the school’s opening and
kept the matter secret.
fact, several lapses occurred if disclosure and transparency are matters on
which you place a value.
known and chose to place their charges at risk rather than sound the alarm.
should demand answers to a plethora of questions. I will cite the ones already
noted and add several more:
a stop work order on the Contractor pending a full investigation of the
incident and a full appraisal of the Company’s work.
Why weren’t walls (other than the two noted) examined, by a
structural engineer, for possible sub-standard workmanship prior to the school
opening on Monday morning, September 22, 2014?
Have they been properly examined since?
Was the temporary “fix” allowed to stand or was that wall demolished and replaced with one that met the standard originally specified?
That said, why wasn’t the school closed, at least until the structural
engineer had performed an investigation of the incident and provided written confirmation
that the Building was safe to enter?
Transportation and Works, knew about the collapse of the wall and when?
incident? Why did they not act, immediately, to close the school?
possibility of other wall failures thought to be significant enough only to be worthy
of a cloak of security?
School involving more than one senior official and more than one Government Department?