GRAVE CONCERNS: Toogoom resident Norm Hoffman at a section of the Toogoom rock wall which he believes is collapsing.
GRAVE CONCERNS: Toogoom resident Norm Hoffman at a section of the Toogoom rock wall which he believes is collapsing. Alistair Brightman

Rock wall built despite expert warning won't last five years

ENGINEERS said it wouldn't last more than five years, but the Toogoom rock wall was built anyway, something Norm Hoffman is convinced the council knew before its construction in 2013.

The Toogoom resident said, as predicted, it was now on the verge of collapse, and despite trying to convince authorities of its deteriorating condition, felt his concerns were falling on deaf ears.

"They don't meet the required specifications and the wall was not constructed in accordance with the approved design," Mr Hoffman said.

He said rocks from the Dundowran Quarry were used to construct the wall in November 2013 to protect 14 properties from coastal erosion.

However, Mr Hoffman said the rock used was unsuitable and claimed Fraser Coast Regional Council and the construction company were aware before they started construction.

"Technical inspections say very clearly that any rock showing any signs of seams, cracks or crevices were not to be used as they fall to bits," he said. "The whole wall is collapsing."

Currently, residents living alongside the wall are paying about $100k each on top of rates over a 10-year term.

 

Toogoom rock wall - Norm Hoffman at a section that is collapsing.
Toogoom rock wall - Norm Hoffman at a section that is collapsing. Alistair Brightman

According to a letter from Aurecon, the Kingfisher Parade Seawall, which included the construction of an erosion protection seawall along properties 48 to 82 Kingfisher Parade, Toogoom, was to allow for a sea level rise of 0.3m and a design life of 50 years.

However, an engineer's report expected the wall to barely last five years.

In emails obtained by the Fraser Coast Chronicle, from Engineers Plus to Fraser Coast Regional Council, it was discovered an email in October 2013 highlighted Engineers Plus' doubts of the wall's life expectancy.

It states:

"Aurecon has designed the seawall to utilise the Dundowran Rock, in this instance they have allowed 30% larger rocks to counter the higher potential for fracture. In this instance, if the capping stones or other armour rocks fractures more than 30% of the volume then the wall has essentially failed. Based on what has happened locally and the tenderer comments I would say that this likelihood of this happening in the first five years is very likely. Not sure if FCRC would like to go back to the residents and ask for more money for maintenance in a few years".

One of the companies which tendered unsuccessfully for the project acknowledged Dundowran Rock as unsuitable for the rock wall and thus would not price it.

The winning tenderer, Lanson Civil, also inspected the rock and said the Dundowran rock was unsuitable.

Despite acknowledging the problems which would arise with its use, the rock was used anyway.

When approached in 2016, the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection said they investigated and responded to concerns raised by residents regarding the sea wall.

They confirmed the sea wall fulfilled its intended purpose and was certified by a registered professional engineer of Queensland.

In an email to Mr Hoffman, Council CEO Ken Diehm said he sent a qualified engineer to check the wall.

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According to Mr Diehm, the engineer said there was a need of maintenance only and therefore deferred an inspection and included the Toogoom Sea Wall in a maintenance review of all sea walls early this year.

Mr Diehm said ongoing allegations had been made by "some members of the public" in relation to the construction of the Toogoom rock wall since it was built in 2013.

"The council has engaged an independent expert to investigate the allegations," Mr Diehm said.

"The investigation is currently under way and it would be inappropriate to make any comment until it is completed."

Throughout 2018 the council will undertake a review of all its rock revetment walls to understand what, if any, maintenance works are required.

Attempts were made to contact Aurecon but they did not respond by deadline.



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