The Triton


New Panama Canal lock leaks


One of the new locks in the Panama Canal’s $5.25 billion expansion has cracked and leaks.

The crack appeared during testing of the new Cocoli Locks on the Pacific side. A video on shows water pouring out of the wall across the width of the chamber.

Workers began filling the new lock with water in June but the barrier separating the new lock from the Pacific Ocean was removed in late August.

On Monday, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) said it is awaiting a report from its contractor, Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) before determining if the locks will open as scheduled in April. When the leak was first discovered in August, the ACP said it would not impact the expansion’s opening, which is already two years behind schedule.NEWS Panama canal crack NEWS panama canal crack gcaptain

Despite not having its report, the ACP noted that the “some water seepage” was detected as the locks were being stressed tested to “level differentials much higher than those required for normal operations”, according to a statement.

The ACP has since appointed two independent structural engineers to evaluate the reasons for the “localized issue” and to assess GUPC’s solution, once provided.

Creating the third set of locks is the bulk of the $5.25 billion expansion project and includes construction of bigger locks on the Atlantic and Pacific sides to allow for larger container ships, effectively doubling capacity. The expansion is 93 percent complete and was in its testing phase when the leaks appeared. The canal turned 100 years old in 2014.

A core sample pulled from the lock shows the concrete riddled with air pockets, according to photos on

About Lucy Chabot Reed

Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher and founding editor of The Triton.

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