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Ardersier Harbour rebar under investigation

24 Jun The use of non-certified reinforcing steel in a major Scottish harbour project is to be investigated by industry authorities.

Bauer is installing diaphragm walls to create a new port facility at Ardersier to serve offshore wind installations
Bauer is installing diaphragm walls to create a new port facility at Ardersier to serve offshore wind installations

An alert from the British Association of Reinforcement (BAR) has prompted the Certification Authority for Reinforcing Steels (CARES) to investigate reports of unapproved steel on the £300m Ardersier Harbour project near Inverness.

Haventus, the port authority, is building Scotland’s largest facility on the North Sea coast for deploying and servicing offshore wind installations.

Concerns have been raised that the reinforcement cages being used for the construction of the diaphragm wall may fail to satisfy the requirements of UK CARES certification.

Bauer is the geotechnical contractor.

The front quay wall that Bauer is installing is up to 42 metres deep and 1,500mm wide. It is also putting in a rear anchor wall, up to 27 metres deep and 1,000mm wide.

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According to BAR, concern centres on the outdoor welding of the reinforcement cages, for which the fabricator, F Brazil Reinforcements Ltd, has no CARES approval for the site. The non-approval for outdoor welding means that, despite the straight rebar and reinforcement links components being CARES approved, the overall finished welded prefabricated cage is not. Furthermore, by not being CARES approved there is no guarantee that the welders themselves are meeting the requirement of CARES Appendices 11/12. These ensure competency to meet the requirements of International Standard ISO 17660 and British Standard BS 8548:2017.

BAR chairman Steve Elliott said: “Reinforcing steel is a safety critical construction product. As such is it vital that there is absolute assurance that it meets all the necessary safety, quality and performance standards. This assurance must cover the welders themselves. Prefabricated reinforcement such as pile cages need a full understanding of the potential problems that can result from the use of inappropriate welding techniques and procedures. That also includes the difference between welding in a factory compared to welding in an exposed outdoors site.”

He continued: “It is essential for all construction projects small and large such as the Ardersier project to ensure complete compliance to the safety protocols set-out by certification schemes such as CARES. We understand that CARES has been alerted to the industry concerns and we expect them to be stringent is policing its own scheme.”

Bauer and F Brazil Reinforcements have been contacted for comment.

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