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2013-03-14
The Weight of a Single Car – The Elliot Lake Inquiry

On June 23, 2012, residents of Elliot Lake witnessed the devastation that occurred when the roof of their shopping centre caved in. In the end, it was the weight of a single car that was enough to bring down a large chunk of the rooftop parking lot, injuring several and killing two.

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A public inquiry into the cave-in has recently begun, where the original construction from more than three decades ago is now under review.
 
A 700 page report from NORR, at global engineering, has concluded that “the trigger of the collapse on June 23rd, 2012 is quite evident”. “The evidence of this is overwhelming.”

The expert conclusion? Decades of water damage had so corroded the weld on one particular steel connector holding up the concrete slabs that it couldn’t even withstand the pressure of a passing vehicle. Just seconds after it drove by, the roof crumbled.

According to the report, one of hundreds of exhibits already filed at the public inquiry, the main culprit was a rusty steel beam that ran directly above the mall’s second-floor lottery kiosk, ground zero for the eventual collapse. Both ends of the horizontal beam were bolted to steel connectors, which were then welded to structural columns protruding from the floor. From a strict engineering perspective, it was a sound design that met all necessary building code provisions.

But in practice, the mall’s rooftop parking deck proved to be an utter disaster, plagued by years of incessant leaks that allowed salty slush and rain to seep through the concrete and slowly corrode the steel below. In fact, the weld that eventually failed was so worn by water that engineers still aren’t sure how it stayed together as long as it did. “The collapse was initiated when the welded connection between the angles and the column flange failed,” the report says. “By the day of the collapse, the welded connection had been so heavily depleted over years of corrosion that the passing car was the last straw that the connections could take.”

A security camera recorded the car as it drove over the doomed weld that Saturday afternoon. Ten seconds later, at 2:18 p.m., the connection buckled, sending thousands of pounds of concrete—and a parked Ford Explorer—crashing down on two unsuspecting women: Lucie Aylwin, a 37-year-old bride-to-be who was working weekend shifts at the kiosk to help pay for her wedding; and Doloris Perizzolo, 74, a widower and food-court regular who loved her scratch tickets.

The video has not been released yet, but the engineers’ report does include six horrifying snapshots. “The nature of the failure was sudden,” the report says, “and the duration of the collapse lasted only one second.” By the time anyone could react, it was over.

MACLEANS.CA - by Michael Friscolanti on Thursday, March 7, 2013

While the investigation moves forward, cdrg+REDTEAM has been working diligently in Elliot Lake. Our member, D&G Construction, has been on site for close to three months in an effort to have the mall completely torn down. With heavy equipment and transformers on site, the demolition is now successfully complete. D&G is currently moving forward on the cleanup, where the Ministry of Labour has confirmed Type 2 Asbestos on site. In addition to offering support during this CAT, D&G has also been assigned to provide security on site as part of their new security division, D&G Security. From start to finish, our member has proven to be a successful partner in this CAT.