Deficiencies have been discovered in some Chinese steel imported for the new $458 million Huntly bypass, says a contracting chief.
Major civil contractor Fulton Hogan is awaiting test results after discovering issues when it was building the massive infrastructure project for the NZ Transport Agency.
Robert Jones, Fulton Hogan's New Zealand contracting chief executive, said results from testing were not yet ready and it was too soon to judge the quality of materials used on the Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway.
"We did test a batch that we had suspicions about. That proved to have some deficiencies. But it doesn't mean to say that the whole lot is bad. Interpretation of the testing is not clear. There might be nothing wrong with the steel at Huntly," Jones said.
Fulton Hogan is working with HEB Construction on the Huntly job where steel was supplied by Steel & Tube.
"What we need to look at now - once we've completed investigations at Huntly - is whether the process that Steel & Tube has in place was adequate in advance of the steel being provided," Jones said.
He defended imported Chinese steel. "I'm very confident Chinese companies produce good quality products. Chinese are very aware of the need to produce verification of the quality control testing they undertake because they're concerned about the previous reputations Chinese companies have for quality."
Dave Taylor, Steel & Tube chief executive, said several pile options were offered to the joint venture.
"To ensure that the steel for the pile casings met the specifications, in addition to the steel mill and their external independent testing regime, Steel & Tube commissioned an independent ILAC accredited laboratory to test the steel. A third pre-export inspection was also completed by SGS in China," Taylor said.
After discovery and confirmation of the pile casing issues, the company had worked with the joint venture on a safe engineering solution, he said.
"We acknowledge that the pile casings do not meet the joint venture's specifications, and we are in discussion with multiple agencies in New Zealand and China. Given those discussions, we are not in a position to comment any further at this stage."
Ian Jacobs, a shareholder in Mill-Pro Hong Kong which has supplied fabricated structural steel in Australasia for the last decade, wants random checking of imported steel.
He hopes to meet a representative of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment this week.