Imported Steel : Call for Mandatory Random Testing

Further to news that shonky imported building materials and fixings have flooded the New Zealand market….

Waikato Expressway karapiro-hero [Photo via NZTA]

Calls for mandatory random testing of all steel imports. Surely, it is in this country’s interest to ensure that happens. –ODT

Tue, 7 Jun 2016
ODT Editorial: Time for imported steel tests
OPINION Is it only a matter of time before New Zealand experiences another building disaster on the scale of the leaky home debacle? It is hard not to ponder that thought following revelations inferior Chinese-made steel, destined for use as steel piles on a multimillion-dollar roading project in the Waikato, was uncovered in this country. […] The Government has been quick to dismiss the issue as a one-off and said it would not investigate the importation of the weak steel. But those in the industry have some genuine fears. While this steel was identified as inferior, there are concerns other imported steel being used in the private sector will not be subjected to subsequent testing once in New Zealand. Who will know if it meets the required standard?

NZTA: Take a Virtual Tour and Learn about the Waikato Expressway
The Waikato Expressway is a big highway project. Some parts are already built and others are under construction. It will provide a four-lane highway from the Bombay Hills to south of Cambridge. It will be part of State Highway 1, New Zealand’s main road which runs the length of the country.
https://education.nzta.govt.nz/field-trips/tour-waikato-expressway

Waikato Expressway - Karapiro Gully Viaduct March 2016 1445574105512 [Stuff.co.nz]Stuff: Waikato Expressway – Karapiro Gully Viaduct March 2016

Tue, 7 Jun 2016
ODT: ‘No concerns’ over steel in bridge
The New Zealand Transport Agency says it has “no concerns whatsoever” over the quality of steel at the Lookout Point bridge. The assurance came after 500 tonnes of steel from China to be used for four bridges on the Huntly bypass that forms part of the Waikato Expressway was found to be too weak for the purpose. The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) was reported last week as saying there was no safety issue with the four bridges.

Wed, 1 Jun 2016
Stuff: Chinese steel fails strength test
Roading bosses are defending their quality control standards after 1600 tonnes of Chinese steel destined for a major Waikato project was found to be below standard. The substandard steel piles were to be used on four bridges along the Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway. The 15.2 kilometre-long section is being built by a Fulton Hogan HEB joint venture who purchased the steel from New Zealand company Steel & Tube Holdings.

Wed, 1 Jun 2016 [earlier story]
RNZ News: Steel for Huntly bypass bridges fails test
Sixteen hundred tonnes of steel from China has been found to be too weak for four bridges on the $450 million Huntly bypass that forms part of the $2 billion Waikato Expressway. Contractors building the ‘Road of National Significance’ chose a very low bid for the steel tubes. But the test certificates for them have turned out to be wrong, and now an expensive fix-up job is under way. The contractors, Fulton Hogan and HEB Construction, have admitted to RNZ News the steel tubes were not good enough. They did not comply with standards for structural steel, which for bridges were very high as they must resist impacts, heavy loads and low temperatures.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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16 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, Corruption, Democracy, Design, Economics, Finance, Geography, Housing, Infrastructure, Media, New Zealand, Politics, Project management, Property, Public interest, Resource management, Structural engineering, Transportation, Travesty, Urban design

16 responses to “Imported Steel : Call for Mandatory Random Testing

  1. Elizabeth

    Wed, 8 Jun 2016 at 6:19 pm
    RNZ News: Trader asked to list suspect steel projects
    A steel trader who has claimed dangerously flawed steel is being used in New Zealand has been contacted by officials worried about public safety.
    Mill-Pro Hong Kong managing director Ian Jacob – who has been sourcing steel from China for two decades – last week told RNZ that New Zealand companies often naively trusted test certificates. Steel that was not compliant with specifications was being installed undetected, and there had been a litany of failures, he said. Now, Mr Jacob said the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had contacted him and asked for more information. “They’ve emailed me to ask whether there’s specific projects that I’m aware of that their steel certificates have been forged. Of course, I don’t know that information. What I’ve suggested to them is that there are some projects that possibly should be investigated, because we have seen piles after they have been driven into the ground have had test samples cut out of them, and that doesn’t happen unless there’s something wrong.” The situation would deteriorate further unless mandatory random testing of all steel was introduced, Mr Jacob said.

  2. Elizabeth

    Thu, 8 Jun 2016 at 11:20 am
    RNZ News: SkyCity centre steel jobs go to Thailand
    Half of the work on the steel frames for the SkyCity Convention Centre in Auckland has gone to a foreign contractor, despite New Zealand factories having prepared for it.

  3. Gurglars

    In 1981, I was importing steel heads from Kaohsiung in Taiwan. At one factory I observed a chap melting old car bodies and the resultant product included paint, plastic, aluminium etc. I asked him how he got to the figures of 17-4, or 18-8, the measures of stainless steel and he said, we just test it and add what we need to cancel out impurities. Needless to say that was not to become one of my suppliers. A couple of years later, a company sent me some heads which were urgently needed and in the rush they failed to heat treat them. After delivery the stainless heads buckled like a Yuri Geller fork, needless to say damaging my reputation. So dodgy steel from Taiwan/ China is not new. Large companies should have an agent who is present at every step of the manufacturing process so that shortcuts are not taken and the product is to specification. In my case the heads were replaced. This is not so easy when the steel forms the inherent structure of a building. The purchaser is at fault if they do not pursue their own due diligence at all times.

  4. Calvin Oaten

    Good old Steven Joyce, rampant ‘free marketeer’, never mind New Zealand business unless they have the cheapest price, something they never can do against the eastern hordes. Quality wouldn’t be in his lexicon, like the slaughter of the workers at Hillside on price. Then we heard that the Chinese wagons were suspect and needed work done to bring them up to specs. Chinese happy to do that knowing they had blown away the opposition.
    Now we hear this about suspect quality standards being “fixed”, We read every now and then of catastrophic building collapses in these ‘third world’ countries with loss of lives. Doesn’t bother those countries as life is cheap and corruption rampant. New Zealand is all above that, Mr Key would say, as his mates knock the props out and price and profit is the only guide.

  5. Calvin Oaten

    Let’s hope the complicated steelwork incorporated in the FB Stadium is ‘kosher.’ Wouldn’t want to be there with 12inches of snow on the roof. Oh, forgot Climate Change precludes that.

  6. Elizabeth

    ### radionz.co.nz 9:41 am on 12 June 2016
    RNZ News
    Steel untested when built into highway
    By Phil Pennington
    The New Zealand Transport Agency has admitted that weak steel began to be installed as piles for bridges on the Huntly Bypass before local test results had come back. A sample of the cheap Chinese steel had been sent to an independent lab, but contractors Fulton Hogan and HEB began pounding in the piles, expecting the tests would come back positive. Eleven days later, in January, they came back as failed.
    The agency released a statement, saying it wanted to to address “incorrect claims” that independent testing of the steel used in the piles for the Huntly bypass were only ordered after construction of the piles began. Three industry sources have told RNZ News the huge steel tubes ballooned and deformed after the installation began, and tests were ordered afterwards.
    RNZ News asked the agency for a response over the 10 days since the story broke….
    NZTA has refused to tell RNZ News exactly how much the steel failed tests by and has refused to spell out how Steel & Tube would be prevented from importing more bad steel. It also refused to release to RNZ News the name of the steel mill or fabricator in China the steel came from, on the grounds that the contractors “believe this information to be commercially sensitive”.
    Read more

    • Hype O'Thermia

      “It also refused to release to RNZ News the name of the steel mill or fabricator in China the steel came from, on the grounds that the contractors “believe this information to be commercially sensitive”.”

      NZ, a great place for mushrooms.

  7. Elizabeth

    Garrick Tremain – 21 Jun 2016

    [National Library]

  8. Elizabeth

    ### radionz.co.nz Fri, 1 Jun 2016 11 hrs ago
    Steel supplier has issued fake quality certs
    The Chinese factory that made the steel strand for the Waterview Connection roading project has provided test certificates for other steel that are fake. The factory, Ossen Innovation Materials near Shanghai, made about 600 tonnes of the strand for bridges and highway ramps on the $1.4 billion West Auckland project. The steel used in the Waterview project passed independent testing by multinational firm SGS and has been installed with no problems. But the Transport Agency has refused to say what due diligence checks were done on Ossen.
    RNZ has obtained certificates which Ossen said showed independent tests done on other strand, in 2014. They bear the title of the Shanghai Research Institute of Metals (SRIM), an official stamp and are signed by the “Vice Chief of SRIM”. The Shanghai Research Institute of Metals has told the Chinese National Accreditation Service that these are not its certificates.
    Read more

  9. Elizabeth

    ### msn.com Mon, 18 Jul 2016 44 mins ago
    How did China know, opposition asks
    via NZ Newswire
    Opposition parties want to know how Chinese officials knew a complaint had been laid about the alleged dumping of cheap steel. During the weekend Fairfax Media reported Pacific Steel had lodged a confidential application for a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise investigation into China dumping cut-price steel into the New Zealand market. China got wind of it and, believing New Zealand to be part of a United-States led alliance against it, threatened reprisal tariffs on dairy, wool and kiwifruit to ensure MBIE didn’t investigate, the report said. MBIE will not confirm or deny that an application for an inquiry has been received.
    NZ First leader Winston Peters says either China was told about the complaint or there was a leak from MBIE. “Why and how does the Chinese government know more about MBIE’s steel investigation than New Zealanders do?” he asked.
    Labour’s finance spokesman, Grant Robertson, says investigations into dumping – which happens when countries export goods for less than they cost to produce – need to he carefully handled. “You have to have all your ducks in a row and do the investigating before the other country gets involved… it isn’t proper that China has found out about the complaint.”
    Trade Minister Todd McClay, who is in Indonesia with Prime Minister John Key, has asked ministry officials to speak to the Chinese embassy in Wellington to seek assurances there won’t be a trade backlash because of the dumping allegations. Both Mr McClay and Mr Key say Chinese officials haven’t raised concerns. Mr Key told reporters he didn’t believe China would take retaliatory action, and noted there was no substantiated source in the Fairfax article. China’s huge steel industry has been relying on exports as domestic demand slows. The US has criticised it for that and a potential trade battle is looming between the two countries. China says it’s being singled out for a global steel glut.
    MSN News Link

    17.7.16 Stuff: China threatens reprisals on NZ dairy, wool and kiwifruit if government doesn’t back off cheap steel inquiry

    18.7.16 Stuff: John Key downplays retaliation suggestions over potential China steel import sanctions

    • Hype O'Thermia

      Gee whiz, “John Key downplays retaliation suggestions”. That’s not news.
      News is “John Key says _____ is a serious issue that needs immediate action”.
      Other people’s poverty, homelessness? “I’m soo-oo-o relaxed……”

  10. Elizabeth

    Forgive the “she-ness” about the column….

    Our lackadaisical attitude has already cost us.

    Wed, 27 Jul 2016
    ODT Editorial: She’ll be right? Wrong!
    OPINION Many people believe New Zealanders’ open, accepting, “she’ll be right” attitude is among our biggest strengths. People view us as trustworthy, and we like to think the best of others, too. […] Could our best characteristics be used against us by our “friends”? And are we guilty of being too casual when a professional approach is called for? Given recent revelations in several areas, it would appear so. […] This increasingly appears to be the modus operandi of the Government: deny all knowledge until backed into a corner and then downplay the issue.

    • Peter

      I still wonder about the steel quality for the stadium. We know rust never sleeps, but is the stadium facing rust insomnia?
      We will soon see, I guess.
      What maintenance has already been done? Expected or unexpected for a five year old building? Will it make 50 years…its use by date!
      Any observations out there?

    • Calvin Oaten

      It’s called “Kowtowing”. John Key is quite experienced at it. China understands it and will expect it.

  11. Elizabeth

    Fri, 23 Dec 2016 at 3:41 p.m.
    NZH: Investigation launched into Chinese steel being dumped in NZ
    New Zealand has launched an anti-dumping investigation into Chinese steel – despite the Chinese Government saying the allegations were a “wild guess” with no merit. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has confirmed the investigation. Dumping is the exporting of goods cheaper than the products are sold for in a country’s own domestic market, and is illegal under most trade agreements. MBIE said it had this week started a goods dumping or subsidisation investigation into galvanised steel coil from China. The investigation application was from New Zealand Steel, which claimed that imports of Chinese steel coil are being subsidised by the Chinese Government, which has caused “material injury” to the New Zealand industry. The company is seeking the imposition of provisional countervailing duties. Cont/

  12. Elizabeth

    Fri, 9 Jun 2017
    ODT: Steel & Tube stands by its mesh products
    By Simon Hartley
    Steel & Tube is standing behind its seismic mesh products, after the Commerce Commission filed 29 charges in court of allegedly making false representation of its steel mesh product SE62, which has been sold in tens of thousands of sheets. Analysts are now speculating whether a class action could be initiated against Steel & Tube, which, according to its website, is New Zealand’s largest manufacturer of steel reinforcing mesh. The charges stem from Steel & Tube having become embroiled in March 2016 over a product test certification issue of its Hurricane steel mesh, prompting a Commerce Commission investigation. Cont/

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