Panama Canal milestone: Filling Pacific locks

While it may not look like much, the filling of the Pacific side of locks is an important milestone for the Panama Canal Expansion project While it may not look like much, the filling of the Pacific side of locks is an important milestone for the Panama Canal Expansion project

JUNE 22, 2015—By the end of last month, the expansion of the Panama Canal was nearly 90 percent complete. The $5.2 billion expansion will add a third set of locks doubling the capacity of the canal and allowing the transit of post-Panamax ships that can carry upwards of 14,000 TEU and stretch longer than three American football fields. Today, that expansion took another step forward with the filling of the Cocoli’s locks, on the Pacific side.

“Earlier this month, we reached one of the most important milestones of the program through the filling work of the Atlantic locks; now moving on to the Pacific side, we take great pride in the work done so far and are eager to bring the full program to completion,” says Panama Canal Administrator/CEO Jorge L. Quijano.

The intricate filling process will make use of powerful electric and diesel pumps, designed specifically for the job. The electric pumps are expected to provide 30,000 gallons of water per minute each, while an added network of 13 diesel pumps will work to pump 7,000 gallons of water per minute each, filling the lower chamber at a rate of nine inches per hour.

The filling and subsequent testing of the new Pacific locks is expected to take about 90 days to complete.

Among their features, each lock complex includes three chambers, nine water-saving basins with a filling and emptying side system and rolling gates.

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