Construction company that built Edwardsville Amazon warehouse defends its work

EDWARDSVILLE (KMOV.com) – As News 4 Investigates continues to dig into what happened the night of the Edwardsville Amazon warehouse disaster and if more could have been done to protect workers, new details are emerging from the construction company that built the space.

Contegra Construction is defending its work at the warehouse. This is the most detail News 4 Investigate has received so far from the builders. In a four page-long statement, Contegra explains how the warehouse was built. Contegra claims the steelwork was performed by an “experienced steel erector.”

The statement from Contegra explains that the Amazon warehouse used a design that called for metal sleeves being anchored to the foundation, and then steel support columns were placed in those metal sleeves. Contegra says the support columns were welded to the metal sleeves. In the statement, Contegra included a picture of a column that it claims shows proof of the welding.

For months News 4 Investigates has been pushing for answers.

Recent reporting by News 4 Investigates uncovered a memo by Dan Bruno, an engineer and first responder, who was called to the warehouse the night of the December 10, 2021 storm. In the memo, Bruno claims he saw some support columns that weren’t anchored to the foundation, which is a building code violation.

News 4 Investigates also took a closer look at how the Amazon warehouse was built using tilt-up construction, a design that’s been known to lead to catastrophic failures in powerful storms.

The family of one of the six Amazon workers killed in the tornado filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Amazon, Contegra Construction and several other companies involved in the design of the warehouse. The family’s lawyer, Jack Casciato with the Clifford Law Offices, spoke about Dan Bruno’s memo with News 4 Investigates earlier this month.

“This was your warehouse, it’s almost as common as if someone was to buy a home and blame the defect on the prior owner,” Casciato said. “You’re occupying this, you’re profiting from this warehouse, this is where your workers are present, what are you doing as one of the largest corporations, if not the largest corporation, to make sure that the right inspections are completed and not just what the government requires, but what Amazon is able to use in terms of their resources.”

Days after the tornado, representatives for Amazon said the building was up to code, something Amazon continues to maintain. Amazon says it’s leading an investigation into the warehouse’s structural integrity. News 4 Investigates asked if the results will be made public, Amazon answered that it’s being handled privately.

News 4 Investigates has also been asking the city of Edwardsville for inspection records at the warehouse

Since News 4 started asking questions, a congressional committee is now investigating Amazon to see if the company risked the safety of workers.

News 4 also questioned Illinois lawmakers who say they want to look at changing warehouse building codes.

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