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Unpaid bills stall World Trade Centre completion

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 | 6:06 PM    

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OTTAWA, Canada (AFP) — A Quebec steel firm is delaying the finishing touches on the rebuilt World Trade Centre by refusing to deliver the antenna for New York’s tallest skyscraper, saying on Tuesday it was owed money.

“We’ve just about finished making the antenna but it will remain here until our invoices are paid,” Jean Paschini, head of ADF Group, a fabricator of complex structural steel components in Montreal, told AFP.

The Quebec company supplied steel for two more towers erected at the site where the original World Trade Centre towers collapsed on September 11, 2001, as well as a new subway hub beneath the complex, due to open in 2013.

The final piece of the centrepiece “Freedom Tower,” a 458-foot antenna to cap the massive column of glass and steel and bring the skyscraper’s height to 1,776 feet, was to be delivered on November 1.

But the company last week warned the government agency that oversees the World Trade Centre, that it would stay in Quebec until payment is received for other work at the site, “a sum of money that was due more than a year ago.”

The base and mast of the antenna weigh more than 700 tons and must be transported by boat. If it is not shipped soon, the Saint Lawrence River will freeze making delivery impossible until spring.

The tower owner filed a lawsuit on Friday in New York Supreme Court alleging that ADF is holding the antenna “hostage” until it receives US$8.2 million in arrears in what it described as a contractual dispute.

“At some point, business is business,” said Paschini.

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