A grand jury is investigating whether a contractor deliberately used inferior concrete to build two runways and paving around concourses and taxi ways at Denver International Airport, a copyrighted story by the Rocky Mountain News said.

Ball Ball & Brosamer Danville, Calif., has been embroiled in a civil lawsuit filed by subcontractors about a year ago that charged Ball with deliberately shorting the amount of cement in the concrete that went into the runways.

Ron Wilson, a former Ball batch plant operator, said in civil court documents that he was instructed by his superiors to add more gravel and water and less cement, which saved money but produced a lower strength concrete.

The Rocky Mountain News said Denver filed a subpoena asking for Ball's records regarding Denver International Airport.

Denver withheld $4 million from $161.2 million in Ball's airport paving contracts. The city maintains that the concrete is still up to standards. And neither Ball nor subcontractors said there is danger of runway damage even if the allegations are true. But the concrete may not last 40 years, as planned.

In other airport news, Denver has hired Eaton-Kenway Inc. of Salt Lake City to assist BAE Automated Systems Inc. with the automated baggage system. Denver International's opening has been delayed indefinitely because the $193 million system does not work.

Eaton-Kenway designs, manufactures, and installs computer-controlled automated material handling systems and specializes in systems integration.

"We know Eaton-Kenway and will certainly cooperate with them," said BAE president Gene Di Fonso. "We are all committed to making the system work. If their involvement can help achieve this goal, it will be to everyone's benefit."

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