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UPDATE: Nueces County boiler deemed unsafe by state inspector

Boiler
Posted at 4:47 PM, Oct 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-16 18:11:21-05

UPDATE:11/16/22 at 4:12 p.m.

There is new information regarding the boilers that have been installed at the Nueces County courthouse and jail that have raised some concerns.

In a document obtained by 6-Investigates, the engineer on record goes through a list of problems with the boiler system, including things like hard water, elevated copper and iron levels, and that quote "there seems to be no basic care taken for these boilers."

The commissioners had not seen the document until 6 Investigates sent it to one commissioner for comment, who demanded it be sent to all commissioners.

"I had not seen the updated version, which was the one with all the compelling information in it. If that had not been provided to me until right before the presentation, I would not have been able to ask the questions that I was able to ask because I didn't get the information that I needed," said Brent Chesney, Nueces County Commissioner.

6 Investigates also learned that some of the sub-contractors hired by the contractor were not responding to requests pertaining to both the HVAC systems and the boiler systems.

Thus not fixing some of the issues that were brought up by not only the engineer of record but also the state of Texas.

It's something commissioners have been frustrated with since the issue was brought up by KRIS 6 almost 2 months ago.

ORIGINAL:

An inspection by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) this week has found the boiler that serves the Nueces County Jail and Courthouse is unsafe.

"A boiler that is deemed unsafe for operation by the inspector shall be removed from service or placed in a safe condition in a manner prescribed by the department. The building heat exchangers and piping is rated for 15 psi (pounds per square inch), the boiler is operating at 30 psi," states the document obtained by 6 Investigates.

TDLR had previously inspected the boiler and signed off on its use, however, this week they conducted a subsequent inspection.

The result of that inspection, that the boiler was not in compliance, was shared with the county Tuesday, and with the Nueces County Commissioners Wednesday.

Among the concerns listed is that the boiler is not operating in accordance with manufacturer-recommended guidelines and that it is not registered and may not have a current certificate of operation.

As KRIS 6 News has previously reported, safety concerns were first brought to light earlier this year by County Engineer Juan Pimentel. The county responded by hiring the third-party engineering firm Govind to look into those concerns.

Additional documents obtained Wednesday by 6 Investigates recap a meeting that was held between ABM, the contractor of the project, LAN, the project manager, Govind, and Pimentel on October 18.

These documents call into question why this boiler was purchased.

"It seems that the current installed boiler does not match the boiler specified by the Engineer of Record," the document states. "The Engineer of Record shall provide the process that resulted in the installation of a boiler that was not originally specified, why this process was followed, who did approve the installation of the non-specified boiler, what are the professional qualifications of the person or persons who approved the submittals and when was the decision to install the non-specified boiler made and who approved the installation."

Additional items of concern include a requirement of ABM to replace piping to the main line, which both Govind and the County's Public Works department claim have not been completed.

Also, documents state that required reports and testing were not completed on the boiler before it was placed in service, including a hydro test.

"Since Hydro Testing was not performed, it raises safety concerns about the integrity of the piping system," the document states.

Given the modifications to the $2.1 million boiler, questions have arisen as to the warranty. ABM has been given until Friday to verify if the warranty remains in force.

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