Huge leaks have formed in the sill of the new Cocoli locks on the Panama Canal’s Pacific side.
Photographic evidence shows water filtering through the concrete across the width of the chamber near the top of the sill, just below one of the giant rolling gates that forms the barrier between lock chambers.
According to local sources, construction contractor Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) has confirmed the leaks and is holding urgent meetings with the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to assess the problem and discuss solutions.
Jorge Luis Quijano, Panama Canal Administrator has said in a tweet that the relevant parties were discussing a plan to repair the leak.
The leak appeared during testing of the Cocoli locks and photographic evidence suggests several layers of concrete have not properly bonded together.
The testing programme for the locks is a lengthy one, having begun in June with a 90 day period in order that any potential defects can be uncovered and measures taken to remedy them. The leaks suggests that remedial action may not only prove urgent but also formidable as ACP has made it clear that it will not accept the project until all necessary repairs are conducted by the contractor.
Update: The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has said that the project’s completion date remains the same despite the leaks.
“At this time and based on preliminary evaluations, the project’s completion timeline as well as the expected date for commercial operation are not expected to change,” it said.
The ACP added: “GUPC has the obligation to ensure the long-term performance on all aspects of the construction of the locks and to correct this issue. Moreover, GUPC’s contract with the ACP dictates that the group is responsible for modifications and corrections.”