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RE: CNN Reports Low Quality Steel Imported From China

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I would think it is the contractor who is held accountable. They sign a contract to use steel which meets a specified standard. If they want to use cheaper imported steel then they need to declare so, and have the necessary tests conducted and then the structure redesigned for the alternative material. This has become a problem for Australia in recent years because, generally been assumed that all steel used was Australian and was to Australian standards: BHP basically having a monopoly on supply. Now the Australian Steel Institute (ASI) keeps warning to ensure steel specified correctly to Australian codes. They have even suggested that if we use British or American steel then we should probably design to those codes.


Cold formed steel is apparently a problem. Small builders have reported they can get cold-formed c-sections at halve the price of the traditional suppliers. We generally advice: because the steel is half the strength so they will have to use twice as much. Other builders have indicated the galvanizing flakes off, and the thickness is undersized. As for mill certificates: we may have codes and specifications requiring such, but I’m not aware of anyone getting such: not on small projects anyway.


Bolts are another problem. Apparently here we no longer have any local structural bolt manufacturers, and all are imported. It seems often the certificates with the bolts are fake, or that only one of the bolts in a box is to the actual grade.


What I don’t understand is if China has a massive demand for steel and we are exporting to them: why are we importing steel from them?



Conrad Harrison

B.Tech (mfg & mech), MIIE, gradTIEAust



South Australia

From: Daryl Richardson [mailto:h.d.richardson(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Thursday, 1 May 2008 11:30
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: CNN Reports Low Quality Steel Imported From China


Fellow engineers,


        I hate to be the one to start a new engineering topic in the middle of a beer forum; but if I wait until tomorrow I may forget what I wanted to ask.


    The CNN this evening reported serious problems with poor quality (including low strength) in steel imported from China.  Lou Dobbs seems shocked that no one "in authority" (meaning in government, I suppose) is interested in doing anything about it.


        My limited experience with this sort of thing is that it will be the structural EOR who is held accountable for failures rather than "The Government".


        In the past I have relied on mill test reports for quality assurance; however, in light of the CNN report this may no longer be good enough.  What thoughts do you people have on the subject?  What additional safeguards are required?


        I do not have a project under way at the present time so there is no urgency for a reply on my part, however, some thoughtful discussion on the subject may be very appropriate.


Best regards to all

(and good beer drinking),


H. Daryl Richardson