Rust on a section of the fence at AIA. (Photo: Patrick Ferrari)

Some segments of the perimeter fence at the Argyle International Airport have begun to rust, months after they were erected and even before the long-delayed airport begins operating.

Rudy Matthias, chair and chief executive of the International Airport Development Company (IADC), the state-owned firm charged with constructing the EC$729 million project, told iWitness News on Thursday that he is aware of the situation.

The fence has begun to rust, about four months after some segments were erected.

Asked why a fence that was erected so recently would begin to rust, Matthias told iWitness News:

“Why would it be rusting? I can’t explain that.”

A close-up photograph of the rusting fence. (Photo: Patrick Ferrari) A close-up photograph of the rusting fence. (Photo: Patrick Ferrari)

He, however, said that the IADC is “aware that some sections of the fence are rusting, or, at least appear to be rusting.

“There is a build up on them which we are trying to understand the nature of the build up and why it is affecting the fence. The obvious reason is, of course, proximity to the sea. But I am not a chemical engineer, so I can’t explain why the fence is rusting.”

Asked what would be done to correct the situation, Matthias told iWitness News, “We will try to fix it.”

Some persons have speculated that the type of fence bought for the airport was not the most appropriate as it is located to the sea, and the air has a high salt content, causing certain types of metals to rust or corrode.

The airport has missed construction deadline annually since 2011, the most recently being June 2016.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves ahs said that he has been advised to stop giving projected completion dates.

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8 replies on “Argyle Airport fence is rusting”

  1. What do you expect from an airport that was built on the cheap with no overall plan or timetable or viable purpose except to shock and awe a guilible electorate into mindlessly shouting “Labour love” night and day?

    What do you expect from a country that has been rusting away as far as infrastructure and the environment are concerned for decades?

    What do you expect from a regime which allowed a twice-bankrupt double-glaze window salesman who could only complete a tiny portion of a planned 1,000 room resort at Buccament Bay most of whose unfinished potions are also rusting away?

      1. Yes we can Lostpet because I believe that much of what is happening is caused not just by corrosion but by corruption as well.

  2. Is the fence alone rusting? The last time I looked at the terminal building there were rust stains from rails at the top running down the walls. And the famous fire engines were rusting.
    I wouldn’t have though that one needed to be a chemical engineer to recognize rust. If the rails were made of wrought iron (and surely as the CEO, Mr Matthias surely knows what rails they bought; or he should be able to find out) then yes, it’s rust. Iron and sea blast produce something that “looks like rust”, acts like rust and IS RUST.

    1. There has to be deterioration in the long completed terminal and control tower if only because if you don’t use it, then you lose it.

  3. Heavy duty security fencing should have 40 microns of dipped hot galvanize applied and then an application of UV resistant paint applied or better still be dipped in UV proof hot vinyl as the finisher.

    Although cost of the vinyl-clad fencing will be considerably more (20 per cent) than the galvanized painted fence, the extra cost of the vinyl-cladding appears economically well justified because of its outstanding corrosion resistance, longer service life, and other benefits provided by the vinyl coating.

    I do not believe for one moment that this fencing was ever galvanized and for it to rust so soon is evidence of its poor quality.

    All buildings close to the sea experience fast rusting of metal and this is attributed to what is commonly called sea blast. This sea blast is actually the salt from the ocean being carried inland by the wind. We know that sea blast at Argyle is a very serious problem. Being facing into the Atlantic huge waves that produce spray are picked up by the wind and deposited with a blast of sand and salt.

    Many metals such as aluminum and iron naturally have a microscopic layer on their surface to protect from corrosion. For aluminum, this layer is called aluminum oxide, while for iron, the layer is iron oxide. In each case, this layer acts to prevent corrosion from occurring.

    However, salt (sodium chloride), or actually the chloride part of salt, changes the ability of the oxide layer to protect the metal. Chloride always breaks down this layer causing pockmarks to form which is known as pitting, and once this occurs, then the rusting of the metal begins.

    Another aspect of the sea blast is that in some locations such as Argyle in particular the wind also carries fine particles of sand. This windblown sand has a double effect in that the sand constantly hitting on the metal causes pitting and the sand also has salt in it which begins to act on the pits, further breaking down the top layer of the metal.

    At Argyle this action was accelerated by windblown grit from the stone crusher plant, I have been inspecting it at regular intervals and can confirm damage from that source. I also noticed wherever they did concrete work adjacent to the fence the blown cement powder chemically attacked the painted surface and rusting was accelerated.

    With a real good quality fence none of the above should affect the fence.

    Special attention, therefore, should be paid to the use of metal, especially iron and steel, in coastal environments. In addition, certain protective measures should be implemented. The effect of not taking the measures is that the metal surfaces corrode much faster and therefore the protective measures breakdown. Further, the building owner has higher maintenance costs because the various protective measures have to be replaced at a faster rate than at other locations.

    I have also been keeping watch on the steel drainage tunnels and can report they also are starting to rust inside. I can also report that the coating that was contracted for to protect the galvanized steel tunnels outside was not carried out and concrete was poured straight on top of it which will cause severe corrosion through chemical reaction. The whole thing is now buried so the corrosion cannot be monitored.

    Any steel parts used at the terminal or anywhere else at the Argyle site should be of marine quality stainless. Anything else is a waste of money and will have a five year life. Some of you may have noticed what happened to the bridge rails at Rabbaca, they rotted right away and are now completely gone, within 6 years.

    “We will try to fix” it is a fairly stupid comment because it cannot be fixed it all has to be replaced. That is the problem with employing Cubans who’s expertise is building ten year lasting airports in Africa. Also a novice to the construction trade such as Mr Mathias should never have been employed in such a serious position.

  4. Any unprotected metal exposed to the salty air on the windward coast will rust but that’s not news, or is it? We also know that the problem can be mitigated by choosing ‘rust resistant’ materials. A permanent painting crew will also be required to ward off that ‘rusting hulk’ look.
    Now, there’s an idea for an enterprising paint contractor.
    Constructive criticism is great but solutions are always more useful.
    By the way, what’s the hold up? Why cant this airport become operational?

  5. It appears that the wrong type of fence has been used if its only recently been erected and is already rusting. Its got to be warrantied as its within a year of erection. Either its returned under warranty – maintained now or it will be corroded beyond practical use. By the way if it corrodes beyond a certain limit then the FAA will mark the airport as unusable for obvious reasons and no aircraft will be allowed to use the airport.

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