BOSTON (AP) – A memorandum written by a Big Dig safety officer warning his construction company superiors that portions of a tunnel’s ceiling could collapse appears to be a fake, the conmpany said Wednesday.

The memo dated May 17, 1999, and bearing the signature of John J. Keaveney brought up several concerns about the safety of the bolt-and-epoxy ceiling design in the Interstate 90 connector tunnel where a woman was killed July 10 when ceiling panels fell on her car.

The memo was sent to The Boston Globe via mail late last month without Keaveney’s knowledge, but he later verified that he wrote it while working for Modern Continental Construction Co.

Modern Contintental said late Wednesday that the memo appears “fabricated.”

The bolt-and-epoxy system has been the focus of the investigation into the collapse in the $14.6 billion highway project.

“Based on an extensive review of documents, including invoices for delivery of materials, commencement-of-work records, and safety reports signed by Mr. Keaveney, Modern Continental believes the memo he allegedly prepared in May 1999 was fabricated,” the statement said.

Keaveney’s lawyer said his client maintains the authenticity of the memo, although he acknowledged that Keaveney may have made some mistakes about the exact timing of some events.

“When provided a copy of the memo by a reporter on July 25, John Keaveney verified it as his own without hesitation, and he stands by that memo,” attorney Edward G. Boyle III told the Globe on Wednesday. Neither Boyle nor Keaveney immediately returned calls from The Associated Press on Wednesday night.

Keaveney no longer works for Modern Continental.

Keaveney wrote in the two-page memo to Robert Coutts, senior project manager for contractor Modern Continental, that he could not “comprehend how this structure can withhold the test of time.”

“Should any innocent State Worker or member of the Public be seriously injured or even worse killed as a result, I feel that this would be something that would reflect Mentally and Emotionally upon me, and all who are trying to construct a quality Project,” he wrote.

Modern Continental has conducted a thorough review of its files and found no evidence of Keaveney’s memo, the company said in its statement. Coutts and others mentioned in the memo also have no recollection of it, the company said.

The company said it has turned over the documents to state investigators probing the fatal collapse.

Some appear to contradict the timing of Keaveney’s memo, the company said.

For example, Keaveney wrote that he saw “water dripping out of the drilled holes prior to epoxy and bolt insertion,” but Modern Continental said its documents show that the drilling of the holes did not start until June 10, 1999.

Keaveney also wrote that he saw bolts exposed to the elements with “white rust” on them. But the company said its documents show that Modern Continental did not receive the bolts until July 22, 1999.



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