British Library electric cabling may be defective

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The Independent Online
About 20 miles of electric cabling in the new British Library building at St Pancras in London could be defective, with the copper wiring totally exposed, it was admitted yesterday. This was one of a series of disclosures from the Department of National Heritage as it gave evidence to the Commons Public Accounts Committee about continuing cost over-runs and delays on the library.

The risk of damaged cabling had been pointed out by engineers to the department's official who oversaw the project, as early as December 1989, Labour MP Alan Williams pointed out, yet no action was taken at that time and National Heritage was not made aware of the problem until June 1993. Hayden Phillips, Permanent Secretary at the Department of National Heritage, stressed that new systems had been installed to counteract the threat of fire. He also said that, over the past month, the bill for the library had risen another pounds 15m to pounds 511m, compared with a budget set in 1988 of pounds 383m. The committee's chairman, the Labour MP Robert Sheldon, described the story of the library as "a very sorry tale" with "appalling lists of failures in so many areas".

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