A federal judge has accepted a guilty plea this morning from Aggregate Industries NE Inc. for supplying 5,700 truckloads of substandard concrete used in Boston’s Big Dig project. The plea, according to the Boston Globe, came as part of a settlement in a fraud case that will cost the company $50 million.
This comes just one day after a Boston Globe report that Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley concluded only three of the myriad companies involved in Boston’s Big Dig construction tunnel project were criminally negligent in last summer’s Boston Big Dig tunnel collapse that killed a 38-year-old woman when the car she was riding in was crushed by falling ceiling panels.
Two large firms involved in Boston’s Big Dig construction project, Bechtel Co. and Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas offered to settle the ceiling-tunnel collapse case, and other issues within the project without criminal charges. While no figure has been released, some are estimating it to be more than $300 million.
Powers Fasteners of Brewster, NY was charged last month with a single count of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 38-year-old Boston woman.
Milena Del Valle was killed in July 2006 with a portion of Boston’s Big Dig Interstate-90 connector tunnel ceiling collapsed and crushed the car she was riding in with her husband.
Powers Fasteners provided the epoxy used to secure the bolts to suspend the tunnel roof ceiling.
In July, the National Transportation Safety Board said while the project’s design was reasonable, it was the epoxy used in the design that was in question. The lack of a timely tunnel inspection program by the state authority overseeing the project was also an important factor.
The NTSB determined the probable cause of the July 10, 2006 ceiling collapse in the D Street portal of the Interstate 90 connector tunnel in Boston was the use of an epoxy anchor adhesive with poor creep resistance – the epoxy formulation was not capable of sustaining long-term loads. The report released after the hours-long hearing last month said over time the epoxy deformed and fractured until several ceiling support anchors pulled free and allowed a portion of the ceiling to collapse. The use of the inappropriate epoxy formulation resulted from the failure of the contractors to identify potential creep in the anchor adhesive as a critical long-term failure mode and to account for possible anchor creep in the design, specifications and approval process for the epoxy anchors used in the tunnel.
Bruce Magladry, director of the NTSB’s Office of Highway Safety said the epoxy used for the ceiling panels had “exceptionally poor” resistance to such creeping