10 December 2008

Shanghai's Skyline May Be In Big Trouble

Corrupt official oversight combined with shoddy construction materials threatens to set the Shanghai skyline crumbling and tumbling down. In the rush to growth, China's miracle cities may have cut some corners that are better left uncut.
Of the 52 batches of steel tested by the Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau, 27 were too light to meet China’s legal standards. Some batches were nearly five times lighter than the legal standard, meaning that they were less than the weight of iron, steel’s primary ingredient. “If your steel is less than the weight of iron, that’s pretty incredible,” says Christopher Earls, professor of civil engineering at Cornell University. “That means you’re replacing the iron with something else, so what you have isn’t really steel at all.”

The bureau ordered construction sites using the inferior steel to halt work, but, troublingly, did not publicly reveal where it was being used. Adam Minter, a Shanghai-based journalist who blogged the story after it broke, asked, “What will happen to twenty-year home mortgages taken out on Shanghai apartments which will only last—structurally—for ten years? At some point, I’m pretty sure this is going to become an issue.” After the collapse of substandard schoolhouses during this year’s Sichuan earthquake, tremors of which were felt in Shanghai, the prospect of something similar happening to an urban high-rise isn’t an issue anyone should take lightly. _ForeignPolicy_via_PowerandControl
This is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg. Many inferior batches of steel were likely to have been never tested, or to have been passed on to finished construction (along with the appropriate bribe). The extent to which China is still a third world country is not widely appreciated in the west.


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Blogger Hell_Is_Like_Newark said...

What on earth are you going to use that is cheaper than iron? Most lighter metals are more expensive.

I suspect the steel is lighter because it is full of porosity (air bubbles).

Wednesday, 10 December, 2008  
Blogger Hell_Is_Like_Newark said...

I take my previous post back.. My bad... porosity is only in cast steel. I-beams are not cast. A better theory is that the steel was given a bad mix or overloaded with silicon and carbon. So there could be a lot of silicon molecules where iron is supposed to be.

Thursday, 11 December, 2008  
Blogger kurt9 said...

This does not surprise me. Japan had (and is still having) a huge scandal, which started when it was revealed that one of their leading architects, Aneha-san, fudged his structural calculations for designing earthquake resistant buildings in the Tokyo area. This came to the public's attention in late 2005. The scandal expanded when it turned out that such structural calculation forgery was quite widespread in much of Japan's construction industry, which is well-known for its sleaze and corruption.

Many buildings had to be condemned alone and it is now believed that many highways (which are elevated in the cities) and train lines (which are also elevated in many areas) are possibly at risk in the event of a major earthquake.

The resultant political hoohaa is still ongoing.

If this can happen in Japan, you know full well that it will even worse in China because 1) the Chinese are more corrupt than the Japanese and 2) they are not anal-retentively precise in everything they do like the Japanese are.

This revelation about China's construction does not surprise me at all.

Thursday, 11 December, 2008  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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