‘Unforeseen’ asbestos found in City of White Rock pipes

Sewage-system replacement to cost White Rock up to $250,000 more

A project to replace storm and sanitary sewers on Marine Drive is expected to cost White Rock at least $225,000 more than initially anticipated.

And while council gave unanimous support to spending up to $250,000 more if necessary, at least two of the politicians expressed concern – questioning not only the bump, but why the problems that triggered it, including asbestos, weren’t identified from the get-go.

“I think when you’ve got an engineer looking at the job, they should go down there with a camera,” Coun. Al Campbell said last week, following an explanation of the “unforeseen” change orders by Greg St. Louis, the city’s director of engineering and municipal operations.

“We have very sophisticated engineering, we can take video, we can dig holes and we can go digging,” Campbell said. “We do have money as it happens in this particular case, but these are very, very large numbers.

“And the word ‘unforeseen’ and not knowing we had asbestos pipe in the ground, well, a video camera would have shown you that.”

The project – replacing the sewers from Bishop Road to High Street – had an original budget of $1,734,000, of which $1,322,200 was approved last October.

According to St. Louis, the change orders – totaling more than $225,000 – “were beyond what could be reasonably expected to be covered by standard project contingency.”

He told council a large portion of the extra charges stemmed from the discovery of asbestos in the pipes “and the proper measures to dispose of it and obtain the material.”

“That accounted for $150,000 and was not estimated in the contingency that we had planned,” he said.

Going over the list of 13 change orders, and three contemplated orders, Campbell questioned the validity of at least two – referring to work done on Magdalen Road – as road work had been completed less than two years ago.

“Magdalen is brand new, built 18 months ago, what work at Magdalen was needed? Replacing a sidewalk? Did the engineer miss it?” he said. “There are a lot of items here that require a second look.”

Coun. Larry Robinson echoed Campbell’s sentiment, noting there were five change orders that were more than $25,000 each.

“Is there a point with the change orders where we have a process that kicks in so we can see a more detailed invoice when it exceeds a certain amount?” he asked.

However, St. Louis noted all change orders are pre-examined thoroughly.

“There is no dollar amount associated with that, every change order is looked at individually with the same due diligence, if it’s $1,000 or $50,000,” he said.

Council unanimously approved the change orders. Work is to be completed by the end of the month.