Bellingham airport plumbing inspection finds few problems

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDNovember 22, 2013 

BELLINGHAM - After several re-inspections of plumbing work in the Bellingham International Airport terminal expansion project, port officials say they have found only minor problems.

A recent report by KOMO 4 television cited complaints from a former employee at Diamond B Plumbing, contending that gas and water pipes in the building had not been properly secured for earthquake safety.

In response to those complaints, Port of Bellingham spokeswoman Carolyn Casey reports that the work was rechecked by a Whatcom County building inspector and by an engineer working for URS Engineering, the firm that designed the project. Neither inspection turned up any problems.

A third inspection by an independent engineer, also commissioned by the port, determined that a portion of the natural gas piping had not been secured according to project specifications, although it did meet earthquake safety standards in the building code. That portion will be re-evaluated and re-inforced if necessary, Casey reported.

Diamond B is a subcontractor on the $38 million expansion project awarded to Dawson Construction. The former Diamond B employee provided KOMO with photos showing pipes secured with wire instead of the sturdy braces that safety standards require.

But Casey said the wires were a temporary measure to secure the pipes while construction was in progress, and the pipes and that portion of the terminal itself were not in use at the time. The required braces have since been installed.

The former employee also questioned whether the substances used on the water pipes were suitable for drinking water. Casey said those substances do appear to be suitable, but the port has hired another consultant to make sure that is the case.

The expansion work is expected to be complete in late January 2014.

Reach JOHN STARK at john.stark@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2274.

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