Statement from PORR
29.04.2020 - On Friday, 24 April 2020, PORR AG received notice of termination from Straßen.NRW of the construction contract for the construction project to build the A1 Leverkusen Bridge on the grounds of alleged “significant defects” in the steel parts. PORR firmly rejects these allegations as they are not founded in fact. Expert opinions provided by renowned steel construction experts and TÜV Rheinland (Technical Inspection Association Rheinland) confirm that the defects identified can be rectified without any problems. According to the expert opinions issued, new production of all steel components is not necessary and would not be justified. In addition, the client has only subjected a small part of the steel elements to examination.
The production in China was supervised by TÜV Rheinland, who was on site on behalf of PORR, and by representatives of Straßen.NRW. The company producing the steel, China Railway Shanhaiguan Bridge Group Co, Ltd. (CRSBG), is a renowned company for steel bridge constructions that operates internationally and has realised many spectacular bridges (e.g. Rathenow Bridge DB AG, Danube Bridge DB AG, Sava Bridge Belgrade, Macau Bridge Hong Kong) and is also certified to all relevant German and European standards. CRSBG is certified by DVS-SLV Duisburg, a recognized certification body for steel construction. This certification was renewed in spring 2019 and extended until 2022. Straßen.NRW separately audited CRSBG before awarding the contract to PORR and expressly approved the commissioning of the company as a PORR subcontractor.
The deficiencies in question are a common occurrence in high-volume steel construction. These faults include stress marks, scratches, residue from welding, or individual pores or occlusions in the welded seams. These are identified together and then rectified using predefined methods. In its press statement on 18 April 2020, TÜV Rheinland confirmed that it would be unproblematic to remove the deficient parts and that it considered all of the steel components to be repairable. This conforms to the standard practice in steel construction, whereby any remaining defects can be addressed on the elements on the construction site. PORR intended to follow this practice using a workover concept already proposed.
PORR finds this contract termination regrettable as it means that completion of the bridge over the Rhine will be delayed and that the total costs for the project will increase significantly. PORR has always strived to find a feasible solution that would have saved a great deal of time and money and served the interests of the region’s people and economy. PORR is prepared to defend its legal position and to protect its economic interests.
As Straßen.NRW have refused to commission an independent expert opinion to date, PORR has recently exercised its contractual right to an arbitration appraisal by a state-approved inspection body. Should there still be no agreement reached, a neutral clarification can be brought about in addition to the existing expert opinion provided by TÜV Rheinland.