Caltrans continued to bet on ZPMC by relaxing U.S. standards when the firm couldn’t finish fast enough.
Caltrans overrode bridge welding codes and near-universal requirements for new bridge construction when it deemed many cracks in welds produced by ZPMC inconsequential and left them in place to hurry construction along, Caltrans documents show.
. . .
In early 2008, at a meeting with Caltrans and ABF, the Chinese firm showed open defiance, according to a Caltrans memo about welder performance. “ZPMC stated that they, as the fabricator, will decide whether or not they will adhere to the agreed upon (quality-test) procedures. To this date, ABF has not provided the Department with ZPMC’s decision.”
Rick Morrow, a supervising Caltrans engineer, wrote in his job diary, “Is ABF unable to control ZPMC or doesn’t want to? No follow through on agreement and ZPMC ignored the ABF stop order. ... ”
Philip Stolarski, head of Caltrans materials testing, testified at the January Senate hearing that ZPMC treated contract requirements as “suggestions.”
Caltrans responded in a joint statement from many unnamed officials
After the dam was completed and the lake began to fill, large numbers of significant leaks into the dam caused the Bureau of Reclamation to look into the situation. It found that the work had been incompletely done, and was based on less than a full understanding of the canyon's geology. New holes were drilled from inspection galleries inside the dam into the surrounding bedrock. It took nine years (1938–47) under relative secrecy, to complete the supplemental grout curtain.
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