Wellington Buildings To Undergo New Round Of Earthquake Checks

By Reina Ilagan

Dec 20, 2016 07:35 AM EST

After last month's earthquake, owners of 80 buildings in Wellington were ordered to conduct earthquake checks as the officials worry that the damage from that previous incident may be greater than previously thought. Inspections would look thoroughly at the structure of the buildings.

This move comes after the findings from an investigation of the Statistics House on Wellington waterfront, which was affected by the quake, was released. Mike Medonca, Wellington's recovery manager, took up the comments given by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The ministry said through a letter that the partly-completed investigation had thrown up risk factors including the size of buildings and their methods of construction.

Among the buildings to be checked are those on ridgelines and soft soils. Also included are tower blocks which have been especially designed to sway on the occurrence of earthquakes. Flexibility has been incorporated into many buildings specifically for earthquake safety.

The target buildings the council aims to inspect include all the high-profile properties such as Defense House, the Asteron Center, Lambton Quay's Vodafone building, Revera House and the Wellington Central Library. Other prominent buildings scheduled to be checked are the Intercontinental Hotel, Treasury, and Saatchi and Saatchi House.

The complete list of buildings to undergo the new round of checks are available online.

"The ministry has provided us with technical advice around aspects of certain buildings. We need to take that seriously. There is an elevated risk of seismic activity in Wellington right now and we need to assure ourselves and the people of Wellington that our building stock is safe," said Mike Medonca.

"We will be looking for specific things that will require engineers to look under carpets, into corners of buildings, perhaps lift ceiling tiles and in some cases look behind gib," he added.

The work is expected to be completed by February 10. In order to meet a fresh demand to further check the buildings, extra engineers are being brought in from outside Wellington.

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