Desire to profit played role in botched blast…

Cleveland Wrecking stands accused of rushing blast to make most of scrap prices.

A demolition company’s desire to profit from favourable conditions in the scrap metal market contributed to the botched demolition of an old power plant in 2013, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. alleged last week in a lawsuit against the project’s general contractor and its parent company.

PG&E, the plant’s owner, noted the plant’s scrap was of “significant value,” and that project cost overruns and delays could have reduced the price Covina-based general contractor Cleveland Wrecking Co. might expect to get for the scrap.

The legal complaint does not specify what actions PG&E believes Cleveland Wrecking and its San Francisco-based parent, URS Corp., took to maximize their profits from scrap sales, nor does it offer a theory on what technically went wrong during the demolition. But the lawsuit does point to shortcuts the contractors allegedly took, including putting a company with no blasting experience in charge of a large implosion.

The two contractors speculate on scrap, PG&E’s lawsuit says, and “their desire to take advantage of favorable market conditions and maximize profits played a role in their actions related to the (plant’s) demolition.”

San Francisco-based PG&E filed the lawsuit, at least in part, to recover URS’s and Cleveland Wrecking’s alleged share of a recent settlement the utility paid to Jerry Wood, who suffered critical injuries when shrapnel from the early morning blast on Aug. 3, 2013 flew across Coffee Road and struck his legs. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but PG&E says it put up 93 percent of the dollar amount given Wood and his wife, and that URS and Cleveland Wrecking made up the rest.

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