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I-Team: Inspection Of MBTA Tunnels After Garage Collapse Will Be Complicated

BOSTON (CBS) - The MBTA's structural engineering team is waiting for the all-clear from Boston's Inspectional Services to begin examining the tunnels for possible damage caused by Saturday's deadly garage demolition accident.

T General Manager, Steve Poftak tells the I-Team, "Tons of debris have fallen onto the top of the tunnels so first we need to make sure that the site is safe for our staff to go in and actually inspect those tunnels."

The garage sits on top of the T tunnels and the Green and Orange Line at Haymarket Station. Workers from JDC Demolition, Inc., were taking down the garage that sits on top of it, when an operator and piece of heavy equipment fell nine stories.

"That impact of that load falling 100 feet or more could be substantial. The tunnels aren't that deep down there, so there's not a lot of soil covering it over to modify the load that hits the tunnel," said Wentworth Institute of Technology Engineering Professor James Lambrechts.

Lambrechts says the concrete tunnels are over 100 years old and are covered with grime making any concrete cracks difficult to see.

"A crack showing up on the inside might mean there is worse issues on the outside that you just can't see. It's a fairly complex investigation that has to be undertaken when you're looking at tunnels and seeing has something happened."

The T says it cannot predict how long any investigation might take, telling the I-Team it needs to ensure that the integrity of the tunnels are intact.

Once structural engineers get inside, they will have to compare old inspection reports and photos with what the tunnels and stations look like now to determine what if any damage the concrete suffered and how it can be fixed.

This as OSHA investigators look into what cause the accident.

The I-Team has learned a worker from the parent company of JDC Demolition was killed in 2018 while working on construction for Encore Casino in Everett. And in 2020, OSHA fined the company more than $12,000 for what it called a serious violation. That case was later settled, and the penalty was deleted.

"J. Derenzo company, which shares common ownership with JDC Demolition, has an impeccable safety record and has not been found at fault by OSHA of a violation since 2015. JDC Demolition, founded in 2012, has never been found at fault of by OSHA in the company's ten-year history," company spokesperson, Jessica Tocco, CEO of A10 Associates, told WBZ-TV in a statement.

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