Letter From An Anonymous Structural Engineer

This is a letter I received from a concerned structural engineer who wishes to remain anonymous for political and business reasons.

Rick Bernstein
October 10, 2004


I had not yet read your email when I talked to you about 6 pm. However, I would not change or revise anything you wrote. As a matter of fact the Department of Health requirements for a concrete bottom and pumps would further invalidate any design that doesn’t presently accommodate these requirements. I don’t fully understand all the history and requirements. However;

The concrete bottom undoubtedly would have to be supported on additional piles, which would be very difficult to install if the present work takes place.

Any reasonably extensive piping and pump system must be installed before the deck is placed. (This work is not in the contract. RB)

There are two common ways to drive piles into the reef. (1) Bearing piles that are driven in water are usually “socked” into the reef several feet. The piles might be fitted with a hardened driving shoe and using a “brute force technique”, penetrate the reef. (2) If the reef is too hard, a slightly oversized hole is drilled through a casing into the reef. The pile is then driven into the reef and the casing removed for another usage. This second method is clumsy and expensive.

If they drive the piles into the reef (method 1) the vibrations could further damage the already suspect bleachers and arch… and it is not out of the question that the Aquarium and Kaimana Beach Hotel and neighboring buildings could be affected.

The second method (pre drilling) reduces the vibrations, but significantly increases the liberating of the detritus and contaminated material on the bottom. The silt filter would have to be pretty effective to prevent contaminating the surrounding swimming areas. My experience on many construction projects is that it will most likely not be effective and the Kaimana or perhaps other swimming beaches will be closed for periods of time.

These questions are always answered by the responsible, paid professionals before a project starts construction.

It would seem to me that if I were the structural engineer or other professional who did put his stamp on the drawings or reports and I recognized that Harris and his minions would not be around in a few months, it might occur to me that I would be left twisting in the wind.

I’ll stop for now.


The Anonymous Structural engineer

Specific Questions:

  • Have the new requirements for a hardened bottom and pump and filter system been integrated in this design and construction process?
  • Have all drawings and elements of the various disciplines been stamped by a licensed professional? Are these people insured?
  • Does the Corps of Engineers have jurisdiction here?… and did they review the drawings?
  • Is there an environmental impact statement?

Pile driving etc.

  • Are they going to use one of the procedures above or some other method?
  • Has any study been done on the effect of the pile installation on the bleacher structure and the Aquarium, Kaimana structures?

Pollution of surrounding swimming areas:

  • Generally pile driving and especially drilling is a very messy operation. The drilling particularly liberates all sorts of strange elements. The pile driving vibration often causes what they call “drawdown” or subsidence of adjacent structures on piles. This occurs often in sandy areas.
  • It is also highly probable that objectionable elements will be liberated from the pool bottom that will bypass the “silt filter”.
  • Has this been addressed by an environmental assessment and procedures by Healy Tibbets for a second line of defense?