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Moonilal's stand on hospital not going down well..
for 12th AUGUST, 2013
Noted geologist Dr Krishna Persad has
called on the Urban Development Corpo-
ration of T&T (Udecott) to re-examine
the Couva Children s Hospital s design to
ensure its parametres are set to withstand
a maximum earthquake magnitude of 7.5
This as Persad yesterday joined the grow-
ing chorus of concerned experts objecting
to the construction of the $1.5 billion chil-
dren s hospital at its present location off
the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway, Preysal,
In a letter to the T&T Guardian, Persad,
responding to the concerns raised by seis-
mologist Dr Joan Latchman, of the Uni-
versity of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic
Research Centre, in a letter to the T&T
Guardian, admitted there was cause for
Latchman had said the present location
of the hospital was in "close proximity" to
the active Central Range/Warm Springs
(CR/WS) fault system, which researchers
believe is building sufficient strain energy
to deliver an earthquake of magnitude 7.5
if it ruptures.
She is recommending an alternative site
be selected for the hospital away from the
However, Housing Minister Dr Roodal
Moonilal said on Sunday the hospital would
be constructed at its present location. He
said he was assured that contractors, Shang-
hai Construction ,would take all necessary
precautions to ensure that the building
would be constructed to standard interna-
Persad, in his letter, agreed with Latch-
"There is absolutely no doubt that Dr
Latchman s statements about the fault zone
are correct. There is overwhelming geologic
evidence to support this," he said.
Persad said his concern was the design
parameter relating to the strength of the
earthquake the hospital was designed to
He urged the relevant authorities and
agencies to re-examine the design param-
eters used relating to the maximum earth-
quake size expected. If it is less than 7.5,
he said, it should be re-designed to with-
stand a higher magnitude earthquake on
the Richter Scale.
"It is imperative that the design be redone
to ensure that the hospital meets the appro-
priate standards," Persad said.
He said two years ago, during his tenure
as president-elect of the Geological Society
of T&T, the Central Range fault zone and
its potential hazards were discussed at
length in a seminar on geo-hazards.
He said both the Office of Disaster Pre-
paredness and Management (ODPM) and
the Seismic Research Centre attended the
seminar and participated in the discussions.
He explained that at the seminar, Dr John
Weber, a geo-scientist who has over the
past ten years documented the movement
of the plates, "recognised that the Central
Range Fault has most likely been locked
for at least 500 years."
"For the record, the longer a fault is
locked, the larger is the potential earthquake
that will result," he said.
Persad said he agreed with Moonilal s
statement that many other countries erected
buildings along or near to faults and fault
zones and that could be factored into engi-
But he stressed the need for authorities
to re-examine the parametres of the design
for the Couva hospital.
Yesterday, Dr Ian Khan Kerhanan, senior
professor at UWI, also expressed concern
over the hospital.
He questioned who conducted the geo-
technical investigation for the hospital site.
"Have we already forgotten the swelling
clays of the Brian Lara Stadium, the collapse
of the Las Alturas buildings that was trig-
gered by foundation instability? A building
code is not in any form or fashion intended
as a substitute for mature engineering judg-
ment," Kerhanan said.
The professor added: "There is a lot of
technology out there to make buildings
earthquake-resistant, not earthquake-proof.
Was the "specific local knowledge" of the
fault taken into account by the foreign
Former head of the Civil Engineering
Department at UWI, Dr Myron Chin, also
expressed his discomfort over the project
He suggested that Government appoint
an independent engineer to carry out a
technical audit/review of the project.
In our lead story of August 11, "Shocker", we
stated that Kelly-Ann Baptiste was the first local
female sprinter to win a medal on the world
stage. Baptiste won her first World medal at the
World Youth Games in 2003 when she won a
bronze medal. However, the first woman to win a
medal on the world stage was Fana Ashby at the
World Junior Games in 2000. We are sorry for
In a Page A11 story yesterday, titled "Oudit
makes debut at ILP election launch", we wrongly
identified the ILP chairman as Danny Montano.
Robin Montano is the ILP chairman. We apologise
for the error.
Seismologist, Dr Joan L. Latchman, of Seismic
Research Centre at The University of the West
Indies, was incorrectly identified as Dr Joan
Lutchman yesterday in an article entitled, "Build
it-Children's Hospital stays in Couva." The error is
GETTING IT RIGHT
A model displays a costume from th section Zeal at
Passion Carnival's 2014 presentation Unveiled at
Queen's Hall, St Ann's, on Sunday night. PHOTO:
From page A1
Last week, seismologist Dr
Joan Latchman, of the University
of the West Indies (UWI) Seis-
mic Research Centre, said the
present location of the hospital
was in "close proximity" to the
active Central Range/Warm
Springs (CR/WS) fault system.
She suggested the construction
of the hospital be halted and a
new location away from the fault
line be found for the project.
Asked yesterday if he agreed
with Moonilal s position that the
hospital would continue at the
present site, she said: "Dr
Moonilal is the person in charge
of Udecott and Udecott is our
project managers and if Dr
Moonilal has said that...remem-
ber they are acting on behalf of
the Ministry of Health."
However, the Health Minister
said: "If I see anything in the
seismic study that needs further
discussions with Dr Moonilal I
will do that. I would engage in
further discussions if need be."
Khan declined to comment
on what steps he would take if
the seismic experts provided
sufficient evidence that the hos-
pital should not be built at its
Khan: There'll be further talks on issue
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