DPW issues notice of stop work order to IPI

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THE Department of Public Works on Tuesday issued a stop work order to Imperial Pacific International, citing violations of the Building Safety Code.

In its notice dated Oct. 27, 2020, DPW informed IPI that its hotel and casino project in Garapan is in violation of  the Building Safety Code, Public Law 6-45, 2 CMC §7101. “You are hereby notified to stop work immediately,” DPW stated.

DPW added that the following “must be complied with prior to continuation of work”:

1) Pursuant to IBC §§107 & 107.4 and NMIAC §155-10.1-145. Suspend all work from Levels 3-14 until shop drawings and revised plans (i.e. amended set of construction documents) are submitted to and approved by the building safety officer.

2) Pursuant to IBC §1703. Suspend all welding work until special inspectors are on board and approved by the building safety officers.

DPW said failure to comply “may result in fees, civil penalties or fines. This order will remain in effect until the Building Safety Division issues an order rescinding it.”

A copy of the DPW order  was received by IPI resident project director Jing Zhou. Copies were also posted at the entrances to the construction site.

Asked for comment, IPI said the main reason behind the stop work order was “lack of certain paperwork.” IPI added that it has “submitted hundreds of drawings since [the] inception of construction and this is an issue where a few requested documents weren’t submitted by our [third] party engineers. IPI’s construction team is actively working with engineers of record (EORs) and inspectors.  The EORs are going to prepare and submit [the] documents to DPW for review soon.”

Since last year

DPW Acting Building Safety Officer Isagani Salazar issued a notice of Building Safety code violations to IPI on Oct. 9, 2020.

But a series of communications from DPW building inspectors revealed that violations at the IPI construction site had been going on since last year or earlier even as construction activities continued. Some of these violations, the letters indicated, have resulted in injuries of construction workers.

On Jan. 10, 2020, Building Inspector I John Peter C. Sablan wrote a letter, saying the DPW Building Safety Code Division was called to the jobsite to meet with IPI officials after three of their construction workers were injured when a platform collapsed.

Sablan said his office was not aware that IPI was using a platform for loading and offloading of construction materials.

“Because the platform collapsed, we instructed IPI officials that they would no longer be able to use the platform until they submitted load calculations stamped by a professional engineer,” Sablan said.

He added that he posted a “stop work order” notice at the construction site for the violation of provisions in P.L. 6-45 Unsafe or Damaged Building and Structure.

The Jan. 10, 2020 stop work order was issued for the following reasons: 1) tripping hazard caused by scattered construction materials that should have been secured; 2) safeguards were not placed in an orderly manner; 3) construction workers were walking along the edge of the building without harness; 4) active electrical wires were strewn around; 5) oxygen and acetylene tanks were not capped; 6) fire extinguishers were discharged and were not four inches off the ground as required; and 7) unsanitary work site.

Despite the Jan. 10, 2020 notice of violations, IPI construction activities continued.

On Aug. 13, 2020, Building Safety Code Division plan examiner Dennis D. Drew and other DPW officials conducted a walk-through field inspection with IPI resident project director Jing Zhou and construction manager Eric Poon.

After the inspection, Drew noted that there was insufficient information in a report submitted to them on July 13, 2020, pertaining to plan and specification, welding job certification, certified structural engineer approval, and revised plans for levels 1 to 14.

Further, he said all the electrical panels were not UL certified and had no pipe support, and there was no special inspector report of electrical and mechanical fixture installed on the job site.

On Sept. 24, 2020, building inspector Ignacio Santos conducted an unscheduled inspection at the construction site, walking from the third floor through the 15th floor.

In his report, Santos said on almost every level there were visible signs of rust on the steel columns, beams and metal studs. The fireproof coating on the steel surfaces was mostly intact with the exemption of a few small areas in the entire construction site, he said.

He also noticed signs of leaking mostly on the corners of the ceiling and walls, and on the penetration of one level to the next.

Santos likewise reported that only tower crane No. 5 was operational. Tower crane No. 2 and No. 3 had been removed and  tower crane No. 1, No. 4 and No. 6 were also not operational due to safety violations. He was informed by the safety contractor that tower crane No. 4 was in the planning stage of removal pending the demolition permit.

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