News6 Investigates


Potential safety concerns with boilers in Nueces County Courthouse

county courthouse.png
Posted at 8:19 PM, Oct 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-26 15:39:19-04

Editors Note: This story has been updated with the correct cost for the project.

There appears to be some potential safety problems with three boilers at the Nueces County Jail.

Documents exclusively obtained by 6-Investigates detail issues with the installation that could lead the pipes to burst and also void the warranty of the boilers. Yesterday commissioners were scheduled to discuss this issue in a private executive session

Yet, we've confirmed that issue was not discussed because they were told a report was not ready, even with the engineering team standing by to do so. But KRIS 6 has obtained a copy of that report and spoke with county engineer Juan Pimentel.

"Pretty much the report says that we need to look at the boilers right now. I know that they were modified."

It all started in 20-20 when the 3 boilers feeding both the county jail and courthouse needed to be replaced...A job equating to about $2.1 million.

The contract was given to ABM Building Services, the same contractors who were bought out of their contract this week for what commissioners said was less than satisfactory work on the Hazel Bazemore Dog Park.

Seeing some issues with the boilers, county engineer Juan Pimentel asked for a second opinion.

"I'm very concerned this is the reason we brought this up. This is the reason we hired Govind Engineering to, since they're a mechanical electrical engineer is on their staff. And that's the reason why we requested for them to be on site, or for us to hire them a month and a half ago. And since then they've been doing their observations of the conditions, of the work for mechanical and electrical."

It appears contractors, working under ABM, made modifications to the boilers, which could void the county's warranty.

Meanwhile, Pimentel says the courthouse's old pipes and the added pressure being put on those pipes could lead to cavitation.

Cavitation is when water builds up in a system causing pressure resulting in a burst pipe.

"We have been advised by the engineer of record that there is no danger we've also been advised by the experts that we have hired that there is no danger and we were also told by Govind the president of Govind but also that he does not have the full and complete record," said Judge Barbra Canales when asked about the situation.

We also reached out to sheriff J.C. Hooper, who says ABM assured him of the safety of the systems despite the crumbling infrastructure of the county.

"I'm just trying to sort through the safety and security of the operating system at this time," said Hooper.

Both Hooper and Canales say ABM is still working on it.

So on top of the potential safety concerns, if the pipes do burst, in the worst case scenario, the county and thus the taxpayer could be on the hook for repairs if it fails due to the modifications made.

This issue is expected to be discussed during the next county commissioners meeting next Wednesday.

In a letter just sent out response to this story, Govind says there may be missing documentation that may "Eliminate or mitigate their observations" and that the report was "not intended to convey any imminent risk to jail inmates."

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