23 Sep 2013

Salt intrusion an issue for construction in Marshalls

1:21 pm on 23 September 2013

The Marshall Islands capital building is the latest facility of national importance to be identified as structurally unsafe.

A 150-page report by a Honolulu-based engineering firm has found structural damage to columns and roofing is such that one floor is uninhabitable.

Termite damage to the roof of the national gymnasium closed that facility more than two years ago, meaning smaller arenas must host major sporting events such as this week's national basketball tournament.

Our correspondent in the Marshall Islands, Giff Johnson, says termites are a huge problem but salt intrusion in concrete buildings is another issue in atoll environments.

"Everything that contractors do, even as you try to protect and get a building put up, it has salt embedded around the rebarring so from day one, there's a corrosion-rust problem developing."

Giff Johnson says the inside of the capital building is like a petri dish in a science lab