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Elliot Lake Update
2

Elliot Lake Update

Elliot Lake Update

(OP)
Engineer charged in Elliot Lake Mall (Algo Centre Mall) collapse found not guilty

cbc.ca

RE: Elliot Lake Update

Glad to hear that... he was the culmination of just so many errors... starting with the Architect that designed it.

Dik

RE: Elliot Lake Update

Wow.
I would have expected worse in that the engineer stated the mall was "structurally sound" only two months before it collapsed.

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RE: Elliot Lake Update

From the CBC, "Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Gareau delivered his ruling in the trial of Robert Wood on Thursday in Sault Ste. Marie, saying Wood's actions were "sloppy," but not criminal."

I would have held him to a higher standard, but, so many 'good' (and, I've worked with many of them) people missed the problem in past.

Dik

RE: Elliot Lake Update

There was a lot of negligence on that job, starting from day one of the design. I suspect the judge had sympathy for Mr Wood, and couldn't bring himself to punish the last engineer for not solving the problem created by all the other engineers, builders, and architects who preceded him. Why there was not a wider net cast I don't know.

RE: Elliot Lake Update

Hokie:

I suspect you're correct...

Dik

RE: Elliot Lake Update


There is a difference between being criminally negligent and being professionally negligent or liable.

My guess is that this is not the end of the issue for him. There may be a civil case. There may actions taken by the engineering board to suspend or revoke his license.



RE: Elliot Lake Update

Josh... I seem to recall that he is no longer registered with PEO... He was just the last guy on the train...

Dik

RE: Elliot Lake Update

Note: I don't feel like I know enough about this case to blame any one person in particular. Though these politically charged days, I find that I am frequently pointing out the different levels of "justice" in our court system.

Just because someones actions (be it an engineer, police officer, or neighborhood watch patrol) is found not guilty of a criminal offense doesn't mean that person gets to walk away scot-free(sp?). We have a more stringent criteria for determining guilt in criminal cases than we do in civil cases. And, the effects on someone's professional life can be severe even if they aren't found liable in civil court either.

RE: Elliot Lake Update

Josh... the only engineering that went into it was the original engineer certifying the loading. I studied this in fair detail including the forensic report prepared for the Ontario Provincial Police. The structural and architectural drawings were prepared by the Architect, and it appears that the steel and hollowcore shop drawings were only reviewed by the architect. The structure as specified could not be constructed for the loading stipulated and the failure was of the building envelope. Not a word of criticism was levelled against the architect.

Dik

RE: Elliot Lake Update

The 2014 inquiry: https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/inquirie...

The inquiry found fault in the owners.

Quote:

"The evidence before this Commission is clear that the
waterproofing of the roof failed virtually from the outset.
The logical course of action would have been to undertake
early and effective remedial measures to protect a valuable
asset. Successive owners neglected to do so, and the
consequences of that neglect were tragic"...

..."The actions of the owners contributed to the collapse"...

Why charges weren't laid against Algocen Realty, or the subsequent owners, I don't know.

STF

RE: Elliot Lake Update

or the Architect... building envelope failure... only way the specified roofing could have worked (and even then, it was inadequate) would be for the topping to be composite with the HC and the original design had a WP membrane between... The OPP report was prepared by an engineer, employed by an Architectural firm...

Dik

RE: Elliot Lake Update

dik,

Engineering professional organizations in Ontario are being pressured to implement Continuing Professional Development. This is in response to Elliot Lake. OACETT, the Ontario Association of Certified Technicians and Technologists have drunk the Koolaide. The PEO still are arguing it. I am a CET, and I am not aware of any jobs that require that title. We could lose a lot of members on this.

The whole profession is being held accountable.

--
JHG

RE: Elliot Lake Update

They have it totally wrong, IMHO.

Dik

RE: Elliot Lake Update

Drawoh:

I'll be sending the Ontario Society a letter on this... thanks for the info...

Dik

RE: Elliot Lake Update

The AG's report, summary here: https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/inquirie... from Sparweb's link makes for very depressing reading.

What's more depressing is the likelihood that even that level of damning evidence of malfeasance, collusion, greed, etc., has resulted in nothing happening.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Elliot Lake Update

Quote (Drawoh)

...Engineering professional organizations in Ontario are being pressured to implement Continuing Professional Development...The PEO still are arguing it...

Really? I didn't know that. In Alberta that was implemented about a decade ago, at both APEGA and ASET, and became mandatory about 5 years ago.
I am rather pleased to fill in my CPD form every year. List of interesting things done, accomplishments, etc. and a reminder to stay current on the things I've already learned.
I do know some curmudgeons who don't see it that way, but they're a minority, in my circle of colleagues.

STF

RE: Elliot Lake Update

I don't think that there is any link between CPD and avoiding disasters like the one at Elliot Lake. Common sense is not often the target of CPD.

RE: Elliot Lake Update

No, I don't see the link between CPD and the failure at Elliot Lake, either. The degradation to the beams and the persistent leaks were evident to EVERYONE in the building. Probably getting off topic, then.

STF

RE: Elliot Lake Update

But drawoh said the CPD implementation for Certified Technicians and Technologists is in "response to Elliot Lake". Maybe if the CPD is aimed at ethical behaviour...

RE: Elliot Lake Update

CPD just wastes thousands of hours for the profession, and does little or nothing. Check with the associations and see if there has been a marked decrease in the efforts of whatever 'Practice and Ethics' committee is in play... I doubt if there has been a change. My $.03CAN or $.02US...

Dik

RE: Elliot Lake Update

dik,

OACETT's CPD program is being justified by Elliot Lake. I am not aware of an ethics component to it. You could teach a course on ethics. I am not aware of one.

--
JHG

RE: Elliot Lake Update

In a culture that tries to go cheap on safety, things only happen when there is a long enough paper or email trail that ignorance is no longer a defense. When I have brought up safety issues, I had to bring them up repeatedly and to far more people than should be necessary in a safety first culture. While it might be easy to blame Wood or some of the other engineers, safety issues don't get resolved without a champion and there are no raises, badges, or ribbons for being "difficult".

RE: Elliot Lake Update

drawoh... it's just a waste of time, and will not prevent the next one...

Dik

RE: Elliot Lake Update

"While it might be easy to blame Wood or some of the other engineers, safety issues don't get resolved without a champion and there are no raises, badges, or ribbons for being "difficult"."

According to the AG's report, there actually were a couple of people that did the right thing, until they were fired/retired. They pushed until the powers that be felt sufficiently threatened, and the powers dealt with it the cheapest way possible, firing one and retiring the other.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Elliot Lake Update

I just finished reading Part 1 of the AG report.

While I'm not opposed to continuing education (being in the U.S., it's all I've ever known), I don't follow how the AG went from "because of professional engineering shortcomings" to "thus continuing education" (recommendation 1.24). Unless the goal is to have all the P. Eng.'s take a course/attend a lecture on parking structures every so many years?

RE: Elliot Lake Update

Possibly, it's punishment for the engineers that got away with, "I didn't notice anything bad," defenses. On the face of it, if these engineers seriously couldn't see that 60% loss from rust as a problem, then they do indeed need to be trained more.

The bottom line is that the AG is pretty sure the engineers lied, but was not able to prove it, so this is the punishment for the industry for allowing these engineers to keep their jobs.

While the legal issues are not surmountable, the PE board could have acted differently and imposed sanctions, as they are not bound by the same level of evidence required for criminal proceedings, but they didn't.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Elliot Lake Update

2
I've seen continuing education as a general waste. There is nothing preventing anyone from reading up on the makings of disasters on their own. There are plenty of examples. It does make for a lively business for course suppliers and I suppose many are heartfelt, but they generally seem inadequate to affect industry if the participants aren't willing to research on their own. Maybe it's intended to thin the herd and decrease competition, but it seems like it detracts from those who are most capable and for whom it's a waste while supplying credentials for those who manage only to win the attendance prizes.

If it is to be done, the Khan Academy model would be best. Independent, low cost, quiz/test basis for demonstrating mastery and with a clear scope of content.

RE: Elliot Lake Update

Full disclosure: I have been a P.Eng in Ontario since 1989.

1) I cannot defend the actions of the Engineer, despite him having been put under heavy pressure by the unscrupulous owner. Critical deficiencies were observed but deleted from the final inspection report. To claim, as some posters have above, that 'he was just the last guy on the train' doesn't wash. An engineer's duty of care to the public is a fundamental requirement made explicitly clear at the start of his/her career.
2) Why were the owners were not charged with any kind of offence? Probably because there is no law they could be charged under.

I have been put in similar situations, although with less visibility (it was testing of industrial pressure equipment), and with less directly obvious and more distant potential consequences. I felt enormous stress caused by pressure on me to keep repeating tests until an result acceptable to the client was obtained. There was no place to turn for protection (not higher management, not the government, and certainly not the PEO).

"If you don't have time to do the job right the first time, when are you going to find time to repair it?"

RE: Elliot Lake Update

drawoh

Quote (Engineering professional organizations in Ontario )

Engineering professional organizations in Ontario

There is only one Engineering professional organization in Ontario.

"If you don't have time to do the job right the first time, when are you going to find time to repair it?"

RE: Elliot Lake Update

brimstoner... until 10 years back, I was registered in Ontario for 20 years or so...

There is only one Professional Engineers of Ontario, but, there is the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers that acts as a 'spokesperson' for PEO members and tries to act on their behalf.

I don't defend his actions; he was wrong.

He was one of many involved that 'missed' critical items. I don't know what his skills are, but, am aware of the skills of those that also missed... I do not know what the scope of work was, or what his instructions were.

I have no idea of why the owners weren't charged. They were relying on professionals, and I don't know what information they were provided with. If they were informed of the problems and the possible outcome, then they could likely be charged with criminal negligence... It's hard to imagine that over the years someone didn't inform them.

The problem, as I see it, is that it is a problem caused by bad Architecture. From the material presented at the inquiry, it appears that the EOR only reviewed the loading. It does not appear that he was involved with the design or the preparation of documents; this was left to the steel and the hollowcore suppliers. It does not appear that the EOR even reviewed the shop drawings. This appears to have been done by the Architect. The original design could not have been constructed to resist the specified loading. The report provided by NORR for the OPP is lacking... My real problem with this is that engineers are getting an unfair and unwarranted label.

The recent fire in Kensington, England is another example of a failure of the building envelope. It was apparently designed by professionals that did not do their job properly; they likely 'caved' to other government agencies... approximately 20 are dead with 80 unaccounted for.

Dik

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