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Early spring creates challenges for remaining work at Porcupine pumping station

'There’s piles around the perimeter that have been tied into the building so the building is not able to sink anymore, it’s down onto bedrock now and has been secured,' according to a city director
2018-07-23 pumping station MH
Work on the Whitney Pumping Station 4 started in 2014. Maija Hoggett/TimminsToday

An early spring is creating challenges for the contractor working on a Porcupine pumping station, according to Timmins' director of Public Works and Engineering.

Tuesday, Pat Seguin gave a brief update of the work going on at Pumping Station 4.

Right now, when the wastewater system's capacity in the city's east end is exceeded, raw sewage is pumped into Porcupine Lake.

A two-phase project to remediate the system started in 2014.

Ground-settling and legal issues have contributed to work on phase one — building Pumping Station 4 on Highway 101 just east of the Whitney arena — not being completed yet. 

Phase two was to upgrade the mechanical, electrical and instrumentation systems, along with other work, at the remaining five pump stations. That was completed in 2020.

At Pumping Station 4, micropiling (a structural element used when there are difficult ground conditions) work began in mid-September. The schedule in last fall's presentation showed the exterior drilling scheduled until the end of December. Interior drilling was slated for November, December and January, followed by the contract completion, and demobilization.

To date, 55 of the 61 piles are completed, Seguin told council this week.

“That’s about 90 per cent of the piles that are in place. That’s where the good news sort of ends. We did get an early spring and what that’s caused at the site is that the water table came up on-site,” he said.

As the drilling crew is working to install the piles inside the building, Seguin said they're facing "huge water issues" because of the aquifer.

“The contractor has designed a new routing system to be able to try to complete these but the amount of water that I saw through the video was just unbelievable. So you could imagine being 12 feet below water level and trying to drill a hole in the bottom of the slab,” he said.

Seguin said there will be scheduling impacts. The city is working with the contractor to mitigate the impacts.

"As far as costs right now, we’re still holding to the budgeted costs. We’ve spent about 30 per cent of the budget to date, but we don’t know the schedule impact yet. We’re working towards that, we’re looking at implementing nightshifts to work around the clock to try to get the station done on time,” he said.

Another report will be brought back to council once there is a schedule from the contractor.

If they can deal with the water, Seguin said there are about six days of pile installation remaining.

“The project was going well, the building is secured," he said. "There are piles around the perimeter that have been tied into the building so the building is not able to sink anymore, it’s down onto bedrock now and has been secured."

Maija Hoggett

About the Author: Maija Hoggett

Maija Hoggett is an experienced journalist who covers Timmins and area
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