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Elliot Lake: NORR report exhibit and local engineer charged (video)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013   by: Staff

The Elliot Lake Mall collapse inquiry continues tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. with Commissioner, the Honourable Paul R. Bélanger presiding. 

A video exhibit using graphics combined with live footage of the collapse, was prepared for OPP by engineering firm NORR, and can be viewed above.

*Warning - the video may be disturbing to some.

The public can watch a live stream of the inquiry daily here.

The inquiry website, adds a level of transparency seldom seen.

As well as the live streaming, the website delivers archives of all transcripts, exhibits, witnesses lists and several other parcels of information.

Local engineer charged

Local engineer Robert Wood, of M.R. Wright and Associates in Sault Ste. Marie, has been charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in connection with the Elliot Lake mall collapse last June.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has not yet made public the specific charges.

According to media reports, Wood and another person inspected the mall not long before the failure and declared the building structurally sound.


Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
I'm In 4/23/2013 10:16:38 PM Report

I guess he paid enough for schooling to get his P eng. degree.
Gater 4/23/2013 10:27:27 PM Report

Incredible .A Professional Engineer signs off as aok and 2 people die. We will have to watch to really see if Justice is truly served.
You got to wonder what else is out there with a Professional Seal of approval on it..
lincoln 4/23/2013 11:53:25 PM Report

Don t be blaming the engineer! he didn t own the building or build it! Iif anyone is to blame its the A.C.R. who cut corners in construction and refused to add the roof over the parking garage as it was too expensive!! They also had the Station Mall roof collapse in the 90 s as well!! It/s easy to blame some poor guy who was called in after thirty years of leaking roof and try to blame him!! clearly the fault or blame lies with the building inspectors of the city of EllioT L ake or the original designer.of the structure!!.. perhaps the A.C.R s property manager/vice president who was also an engineer. nick Hirt, who has since retired should be brought before the inquiry, but regrettably he has passed away!! If anyone is to blame its the owners who used a local engineer as a guinea pig to cover up a problem the owner knew was catastrophic!!
Mr Cloudy 4/24/2013 1:08:44 AM Report

Had no problem signing off or being paid...crooks get charged!
JustMe1234567 4/24/2013 1:40:00 AM Report

Kudos to the Norr engineers for putting together that video. I have a much clearer understanding of what actually happened after seeing that.

lincoln- I think it`s bad web etiquette to comment on anyone in this matter who is now deceased. Just my opinion.
Slim Shady 4/24/2013 6:25:56 AM Report

@ I’m In, Gater, Mr. Cloudy

Some comments from a professional structural engineer…

When it comes to stability of a structure there are many factors that come into play. Every situation is different, some detailed inspections can reveal the obvious – however some modes of failure can remain undetected despite investigation.

In my opinion, the inquiry will probably find that the original structure as designed by the original engineer was adequate to support all the collateral loads it was designed for. Many people confuse the roles of an Architect and an Engineer. An Architect develops the concept building for a client from its functionality and esthetics. The Engineer works with the Architect to take this concept into reality by designing the beams, foundation et cetera to carry the loadings of the proposed structure. In hindsight the Architect who designed the Algo Mall should have realized that this was a poor design for a northern climate. If this mall had been built in say Arizona, the modes of failure may not have been such and issue.

Proper maintenance is imperative in ensuring adequate structural integrity. Once the problems were discovered, the owners should have contracted proper engineering to devise a permanent solution. Yes this solution would have been costly and the original owners should have sued the original engineer and architect for its cost.

As far as Bob Wood and Greg Saunders, I know them personally and have contracted them on quite a few projects. This accident has surprised me for I have always found their work professional and thorough. I was not involved in the Algo Mall structural review however, I believe that these gentlemen would not purposely endanger someone’s life for fiscal gain. To me both of them share accountability in this tragedy due to errors or omissions in their structural review. For people to call them corrupt and negate the rest of a man’s career due to a critical mistake is uncalled for.

I would like to see the depth of the structural report conducted, not just the “Reader’s Digest condensed version”! Was non-destructive testing done (NDT) on the welded joints? Were samples of the concrete decking strength tested?

Before the rest of you knock the engineering profession, just about every single thing you touch has a professional engineer’s involvement. Nobody is perfect; doctors, lawyers, engineers, carry mandatory errors and omissions insurance. This is no different than you or I having liability insurance on your car. If you drove to work one day and killed a pedestrian because you were distracted is it proper to call you a murderer? You would be responsible for the person’s death and would have to pay the consequence.

In defense of the current Mall owner, it seems like he did all the right things. When he saw there was a problem, he hired a structural engineer to review the situation and recommend a remediation if required. “Structurally sound” in a report doesn’t always mean that the building doesn’t have issues that need to be addressed. Any form of degradation to structural elements must be addressed. If corrosion goes unaddressed it will eventually put a structure into a mode of failure. How long will a building stand while it undergoes deterioration? It is not an exact science and hard to predict. However if a proper structural review is done, it doesn’t fall down the next month. No doubt this failure point was overlooked.

No amount of money or jail time can bring these two people back. An inquiry such as this is essential to understand why this accident happened and more importantly, what can be done to eliminate or reduce the probability of this happening in the future.

Slim Shady 4/24/2013 7:08:06 AM Report

One more comment...

It was totally unacceptible that the original owners allowed the problem to get to the point where there was 85% section loss on the weldement. The originall owners should have done regular inspections on the structure if this problem persisted. Turning a blind eye and "installing a bucket" in rainy weather is not a solution.

JediMindTrick 4/24/2013 8:21:13 AM Report

@ Slim Shady.

Finally, someone with reasoning and an education.
You have said it better than I could have...Kudos and thank you.
Wisenheimer 4/24/2013 8:55:05 AM Report

@slim shady ... ditto.
sootodayreader 4/24/2013 8:58:33 AM Report

Obviously if you have leaks there is a big problem. Add the salt and its a major concern compounding each year. Not to mention the freeze thaw that happens.
Blame both the owner and engineer.
TFinn 4/24/2013 8:58:37 AM Report

lincoln 4/23/2013 11:53:25 PM

The Station Mall had a roof failure in the winter 1995/96. However it was due to an excessive amount of snow we had that winter in a very short period of time. Not really the same problem as the Elliot Lake mall..!
houston 4/24/2013 11:48:29 AM Report

I would like to know if the engineer has refunded the money he charged the owner of the mall for his work.
YourFutureNurse 4/24/2013 3:36:44 PM Report

Slim shady, very well said explained thoroughly. You opened up a new perspective on this that I hadn't considered previously.
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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