Subsidence at Cleveland construction site causes damage to building

UPDATE 12.30PM:

A TOTAL of 16 people have been evacuated from Housing Department units beside the Middle Street, Cleveland, building site.

They have been given accommodation by the state government for an indefinite period until the stability of their building and utility services are confirmed.

About 60 gas customers from Cleveland, Cleveland Point and Toondah remain without gas due to concerns about the integrity of a pipeline.

They could be without gas for about two days due to the need for pipe testing.

A minor road block remains in place at the site and QFES staff have put the area back in the hands ofi the builders.

Redland City Council general manager infrastructure and operations Peter Best said there had been a significant movement of earth about 80 metres in one direction and about 30 metres in the other at the site.

He said it was a wet site, likely due to high water tables but he had no idea what had caused the slippage.

“There has been significant slippage,” he said. “Metal buckled out and down. It must have been a tremendous force.

“Safety and public health have been paramount for council.”

Mr Best said it was too early to determine the extent of costs and who would pay.

UPDATE 10AM:

PETER Endacott, who owns the site where an eight-level, 59 unit block is being built, said the building was secure, with contractors having conducted substantial back-filling to prevent any further movement in the sheet piling.

Mr Endacott said the collapse might have occurred due to a water pipe leaking into surrounding soils.

“I’m the owner, not the builder, and it’s all speculation at this stage,” he said.

Mr Endacott said it was not clear yet when work would resume but delays had been factored into the project and engineers were investigating.

There would be no impact on the integrity of the end product.

A Redland City Council spokeswoman said a sewerage bypass had been built around the site after the sewer main was damaged.

“Yesterday we were pumping sewage into a tanker and removing it,” she said.

“Electricity and gas have been cut off so that’s under control also.”

UPDATE 10.30PM:

QUEENSLAND Fire and Emergency Services inspector Daryl Rush has told Redland City Bulletin that while the site at the corner of Middle and Fitzroy streets, Cleveland was secure, there was still risk of collapse.

He said QFES was called during the afternoon to the site, which was part of an ongoing construction project, after receiving reports of a building collapse.

“On arrival, our crews undertook evacuation of a number of residents of housing commission units adjacent to the work site, as one of those units was starting to collapse adjacent to some subsidence that was already occurring near the building site,” he said.

Inspector Rush said the residents were evacuated safely and were found alternative accommodation for the night.

“QFES has continued with making the scene safe and has identified further hazards that needed mitigating,” he said.

“There was power adjacent to the premises that was starting to subside and had to be isolated.

“Also, there was a gas main ... that had started to become exposed as part of the subsidence.”

Inspector Rush said the gas line had since been shut down and made safe.

“There is no risk of … a gas release from that if that pipe was to burst,” he said.  

“There was also other works undertaken to ensure water supplies were shut off and also some leakage from sewerage that had to be off loaded as part of trying to remove all potential hazards from the site.”

Emergency crews at the site on Saturday, November 11. Photo: Mitch Vanderlei

Emergency crews at the site on Saturday, November 11. Photo: Mitch Vanderlei

Inspector Rush said QFES was uncertain of what had caused the subsidence on the site, but water that was already present had been removed to prevent further sinkage.

He said QFES had worked in collaboration throughout the afternoon and evening with the construction company, service providers, other emergency services and Redland City Council to ensure the site was safe.

QFES was now providing laser monitoring devices that detected movement and radios for communication as works commenced to stabilise the site.

“We believe this will be ongoing all night,” he said.

“We’d certainly like a dry night to ensure no further moisture is added to the ground.”

Inspector Rush said the site was complex and there was still a threat of collapse.

“These works under way now are designed to make the site more stable and then allow for further assessment and stabilising works in the daylight tomorrow,” he said.

At the time of publishing, Middle Street, between Wynyard and Fitzroy streets, and Fitzroy Street, between Middle and Shore streets, remained closed.

Inspector Rush was unable to advise when the roads would be reopened.

UPDATE 8.10PM:

Gas leaks at a Middle Street site have not been confirmed or ruled out after checks were undertaken earlier this evening. 

A Queensland Fire and Emergency Service spokesperson said the area continued to be monitored.

Emergency crews were called to Middle Street about 2pm today after earthworks damaged the structural integrity of a wall.

The spokesperson said residents had been evacuated with fears the structure was at risk of collapse.

Photos of the damaged wall have been provided by Redland City Bulletin reader Mitch Vanderlei. 

The damaged wall appears to be formwork established to support a concrete pour.

UPDATE 5.45PM:

THE atmosphere is being checked for signs of gas leaks after a residential building at Middle Street was damaged by earthworks earlier today.

A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services spokesperson said six firefighting crews remained on scene with police, council engineers and Queensland Urban Utility personnel. 

DAMAGE SUSPECTED: Police and QFES staff close off Middle Street, Cleveland, today. Photo: Lyn Uhlmann

DAMAGE SUSPECTED: Police and QFES staff close off Middle Street, Cleveland, today. Photo: Lyn Uhlmann

The spokesperson said residents had been evacuated, with fears the building could collapse.

The spokesperson said it was unknown how much longer emergency crews would be on the scene.

Emergency crews were called to the site about 2pm today.

EARLIER:

POLICE, engineers and QFES have closed off Middle Street Cleveland while an investigation is under way into earthworks that may have damaged a building.

A Queensland Police spokesman said an excavator was working on a project at Middle Street when fears were raised that damage might have been done to a nearby building.

“Engineers have been called in to have a look at it,” he said.

“We expect the street will be closed off for at least two hours.”

He said concerns were held regarding the structural integrity of the building but its condition would not be known until engineers had finished their work.