Safety regulator worried about Olympic cauldron

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER - The province's industrial safety regulator stopped short of declaring the indoor cauldron at B.C. Place Stadium safe for the Winter Olympics Feb. 12 opening ceremony.

WorkSafeBC's engineering section accepted a Feb. 8 certification by Geiger Engineers after rejecting its first report. Officer Ken Kirby’s Feb. 9 report, obtained by QMI, said: “WorkSafeBC makes no representation as to the accuracy of the contents of these engineering certifications and merely acknowledges that engineering certifications have been obtained.”

On Oct. 9, 2009, WorkSafe gave B.C. Pavilion Corporation two weeks to certify the taxpayer-owned stadium could withstand “likely the largest loads that have ever been suspended from the roof.”

The order said the roof’s snow melting system was substantially modified and “there is a need to ensure the safety of the overall design due to the potential consequences of a failure.”

Kirby’s Jan. 5, 2010 report called the Oct. 27, 2009 certification “not acceptable” and ordered more tests based on “simultaneous conditions of forces and temperature.”

Kirby’s Feb. 8 report, based on Geiger’s Feb. 1 certification, said “additional physical testing was performed on samples of the roof fabric and temperature readings were taken while the cauldron was burning.”

Kirby ordered revisions, including maximum allowable temperature. Geiger recommended Feb. 8 that the cauldron be extinguished if roof surface temperature exceeded 107 degrees Celsius.

In a break from Olympic tradition, the stadium cauldron was turned off after spectators left on Feb. 12. An outdoor cauldron at the Vancouver Convention Centre was lit by Wayne Gretzky and burned for the duration of the Games.

The 1982-inflated fabric roof on B.C. Place ripped and collapsed Jan. 5, 2007 because snow was not melted. It will be deflated May 3 and replaced with a $458 million retractable system by summer 2011.

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