The City of White Rock says rust-coloured nails along the reconstructed section of its iconic pier are not a cause for concern.
However, the contractor behind the work has been asked “to return to the pier to do some on-site testing of the nails in the near future,” city communications manager Donna Kell confirmed this week.
In an email responding to inquiries by Peace Arch News – prompted by concerns raised by Burnaby resident John Preissl – Kell described the city’s follow-up request as “an added precaution.”
“City engineers are satisfied that the nails are of a high quality and will withstand the elements,” she said.
The city’s pier reopened to the public in August, following repairs prompted by damage sustained in a violent windstorm last December. A $3.07 million contract for the phase-one work was awarded in April to PPM Civil Constructors.
Preissl – who remembers windsurfing off of White Rock beach as a teenager, and in more recent years is often quoted in news coverage regarding environmental impacts of the Trans Mountain pipeline – first alerted city staff, council and PAN to his concerns about the nails on Oct. 17, after checking out the rebuild during a visit three days earlier.
In an Oct. 18 response, city director of engineering and municipal operations Jim Gordon told Preissl that specifications for the work called for galvanized nails, and that the city would follow up with the designer/inspector and contractor to “verify the paper trail for the installed product.”
“We are also directing that a few of the nails be extracted and tested for coating,” Gordon wrote.
Preissl meanwhile returned to the structure at least two more times, including on Wednesday (Oct. 23), for a closer look; sought second opinions from friends who work as contractors; and documented his concerns photographically.
The closer he looked, he said, the more his concerns grew.
Wednesday, in addition to showing PAN the nails that caught his attention, he pointed out rust-coloured ends of bolts that have been cut down and used in securing both the pipeline that runs the length of the pier and the vertical posts of the handrail. As well, he expressed concern that the handrailing is inadequately secured at many points, and demonstrated his point by showing it could be lifted in some areas high enough to slide a cellphone in the gap.
“They should definitely have a lot more nails down there,” he said. “It should be tight.”
The rust, Preissl said, indicates the fasteners’ galvanization has been compromised.
Contacted Wednesday, a PPM project manager deferred questions to Kell.
Kell told PAN that while it’s understandable that someone might question the rust colour, for the nails, at least, it is simply the galvanization.
“It’s the nails themselves that are that colour. They haven’t changed colour,” she said Thursday.
Kell said she has shared photos of the bolts and Preissl’s other areas of concern with the city’s engineering staff to obtain further opinion on those matters.
Preissl said he’s been impressed with the city’s quick response, but that “there’s no excuse” for the deficiencies he’s identified – which also include tripping hazards among the planks and the use of a spacer to fill the gap above a beam that appears to have been cut too short. He said he’s “100 per cent” certain the fasteners’ galvanization is either compromised or non-existent, and predicted if they aren’t replaced, “mark my words, we come back in a few months, this will be really bad.”
“There is a ton at stake here for all parties involved,” he said. “Something is not right here.”
Kell said the city “will check into any reported deficiency and is committed to ensuring the pier is a safe place for residents and visitors to enjoy.”