Santa Clara County turned up the pressure Tuesday on the Turner Construction Company in its ongoing dispute over a delayed $300 million hospital project scheduled to open on Sept. 19th that is years from being ready.
County officials released cell phone video Tuesday of a so-called “steam explosion” that took place at the construction site on Sept. 3, 2014, when a worker was injured.
The video shows crews activating a steam system in the North Utility Loop, which is designed to provide steam and chilled water at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center facilities.
During the video, there are loud pops and cracks, and workers can be heard making comments about the sounds when suddenly a loud explosion of boiling hot steam erupts through the entryway of the underground vault.
A worker who was in the midst of coming out the manhole is caught in the explosion and crew members rush to his aid. Officials say he was badly injured, and even though they did not know his exact medical status, they point out he never returned to his job.
The county director of facilities, Jeff Draper said, “It was only through the grace of God he (the victim) survived.”
Draper went on to say Turner Construction was responsible because there was no adequate safety plan and told NBC Bay Area the workers were told the popping and cracking sounds were “normal” when he says, “in actuality,” that is when workers should evacuate.
Turner Construction spokesman Larry Kamer told NBC Bay Area that the county is trying to divert attention from its own mismanagement of the project by releasing the video.
Kamer said the video release is another “publicity stunt” by the county to avoid talking about current issues and instead “focusing on something that happened a year and a half ago.”
He said officials should stop playing the “blame game” but added it was the county that granted Turner 1,117 days to address problems caused by the county and led to more than three years of delays.
NBC Bay Area broke the story last Friday that the 168-hospital bed facility was too far behind to make its scheduled opening.
A walking tour showed there were no beds and virtually no rooms ready for patient care.
The day of the report, Santa Clara County sent Turner Construction two official notices stating the company had until this Friday to present a plan to make up the time and cost or would be fired.
Turner and the county met in a closed door session Monday evening.
Sources tell NBC Bay Area that Turner Construction presented a plan, and while the county is still evaluating the proposal, the Friday deadline was not lifted.