Railway firm: Ash report exaggerated

By Jonathan Yeung (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-10 06:48

A recent report about fake coal fly ash having been widely used in the construction of the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed passenger railway was "exaggerated", the railway company said after an initial investigation.

"Random checks have indicated that all of the coal fly ash used was up to standard," a report by the Wu Guang High-speed Passenger Railway Corporation, the company in charge of the construction of the country's first high-speed passenger railway, said.

The investigation was undertaken after a report by the Beijing-based China Economic Times alleged large amounts of fake coal fly ash, a constituent of concrete, had been used on sections of the 93-billion-yuan ($12.23 billion), 995-km-long railway line, on which trains are expected to travel at speeds of up to 350 kph.

"We were shocked by the report and so organized a team to look into the issue straight away," a manager from the railway company's Guangzhou office, who asked not to be named, said.

"We will need to carry out further investigations to see if any fake material was used but our initial results show that all the coal fly ash was up to standard," he said.

On hearing of the report, the railway company held an emergency conference call with 18 of its contractors before sealing all supplies of the coal fly ash for further inspection.

The use of coal fly ash has also been suspended until it has passed standard quality tests, a source close to the company said.

"So far, there has been no information to suggest fake coal fly ash has been used," Qin Jing'ai, an engineer with the company's Guangzhou project office, said.

"Ninety percent of the ash we use comes from Guangdong's finest producers, namely the Huangpu and Hengyun electricity plants. The other 10 percent comes from smaller plants but all of it has to meet relevant State criteria before being used in the railway's construction," Qin said.

According to records from its Guangzhou office, about 4,000 tons of coal fly ash came from smaller plants such as the Wushigang electricity plant and Sanyi cement factory, both of which were named in the China Economic Times report as producing and providing fake coal fly ash for the Wuhan-Guangzhou Railway.

"We used only first-grade coal fly ash in the railway's main construction, while the ash from Sanyi and Wushigang was used only for supplementary construction and the quantity was very small even so, the quality was up to standard," Qin said.

The railway company said in future it would invite bids from coal fly ash suppliers to safeguard the quality of future supplies.

However, the manager of the Guangzhou project office said that was "easier said than done, at least in Guangdong".

(China Daily 07/10/2007 page4)

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