Air pocket, wet soil cause of flying debris damage at condo during blasting work, says Penang Infrastructure Corporation

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

GEORGE TOWN, April 18 — Penang Infrastructure Corporation (PIC) has blamed the presence of an air pocket within a boulder during controlled blasting work at the construction site of a highway project for the damage caused at an adjacent condominium yesterday.

PIC said the air pocket acted as a volatile chamber for gas accumulation.

“During the explosive initiation, the air pocket acted as a catalyst for an intensified release of energy, propelling soil forcefully toward the adjacent Jay Series condominium area,” it said in a statement issued today.

It admitted that the blast damaged cars, a swimming pool, and an awning at the rest area for condominium residents.

It said the controlled rock blasting was conducted at 11am yesterday at site CH1875, which was approximately 70m from the Jay Series Condominium.

“Rock blasting work is one of the main work scopes for this project and this is the 600th time this work has been carried out,” it said.

It said the work was carried out in accordance with established procedures.

“Normally, there were no incidents of stones and soil flying in large quantities and involving a long distance which is around 100m from the blasting location,” it said,

PIC said the clay-like soil condition due to heavy rain the night before had also contributed to the incident.

“The heavy rainfall that occurred the night before the incident caused the condition of the ground to turn into lumps of soil, further contributing to damage to facilities including the cars of the condominium residents,” it said.

As a preventive measure, PIC said the contractor has been instructed to take remedial action, such as reducing the depth of the drill and the weight of the explosive to control the impact of the blast.

It said the layer of ground cover, wire mesh, geotextile and sandbags will be expanded to cover a larger area between 1.8m and 2.4m from the blasting site.

It also said soil load on the top and sides along with steel plates and kentledge blocks will be increased as an additional safety protection to reduce the impact of explosions.

“The contractor has also taken corrective action against the damages that has occurred to the structure of the condominium facility involved,” it said.

It said the contractor is currently identifying the owners of the cars that were damaged.

Yesterday, irate Jay Series residents were demanding accountability from both the contractor and state government.

One of the residents, Ronnie Lim, said the state government must take responsibility to ensure the safety of residents.

He said residents in the area planned to form a special committee to demand for strict safety measures to be implemented during the construction of the highway which is a mere 50m from their condominium complex.

The blasting work was part of the construction process for the Package Two highway that links Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway to Ayer Itam.

The contractor for the project is Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd.

The 6km highway will consist of a mix of elevated sections, tunnels and at-grade sections with three interchanges: Interchange One at Lebuhraya Thean Teik, Interchange Two at Jalan Bukit Gambir - Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah and Interchange Three at Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway with a left-in-left-out junction and an elevated U-turn.

Package Two is one of the packages under the RM6.3 billion three major roads and undersea tunnel (PMRT) project.

Construction started in February 2021 and is expected to be completed in 2025.

According to PIC, the toll-free road connecting Bandar Baharu Ayer Itam and the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway will shorten travel time from 40 minutes to around five minutes.