Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 16th 2013 Contents A5
Monday, September 16, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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A senior academic at the Uni-
versity of the West Indies has
echoed fears that the design of the
$1.5 billion Couva Children s Hos-
pital may be inadequate to with-
stand a major earthquake along the
Central Range Fault (CRF) which
is mere kilometres from the Preysal
Lloyd Lynch, a senior research fel-
low in instrumentation at the UWI
Seismic Research Centre (SRC), says
seismic hazard maps used in the
geotechnical report on the site did
not include new information about
the active fault line.
Lynch is one of the authors of the
seismic hazard maps. He made the
statement after reviewing the geot-
echnical report on the site by Earth
Investigations Systems Ltd (EISL).
The hospital is being constructed
by Shanghai Construction Ltd
through a loan from the Chinese
Speaking with the T&T Guardian
via Skype last Thursday from
Antigua, Lynch said this is a matter
of grave concern for seismologists
because the CRF, a shallow strike
slip fault, has the potential to create
a major earthquake when it rup-
He explained that since 2010, the
date of the last seismic map, research
on the Central Range fault had con-
tinued, and based on new informa-
tion, "we are more confident that it
is a major threat to T&T."
Lynch explained that the new
information on the CRF was not
included in the current maps because
it was not available while they were
He is recommending that a site-
specific hazard assessment should
be carried out on the site.
He said because of lack of funding,
SRC has not been able to update its
Additionally, he said, a project
funded by Caribbean Regional
Organisation for Standards and
Quality to revise the hazard maps
in the region, including T&T, did
Lynch said that project was also
to develop to regional building stan-
dards for participating countries such
as T&T, Jamaica and the Eastern
"Unfortunately, that project is still
pending, so the opportunity to at
least look at or use the new infor-
mation on the Central Range Fault
has not yet presented itself," Lynch
Lynch said there is documented
evidence that shallow strike slip fault
segments along the Caribbean Plate,
similar to the CRF, have ruptured
causing mass destruction and deaths.
"It is foolhardy to stick your head
in the sand and say the Central
Range is aseismic (free of earth-
quakes)," he said.
He pointed out examples such as
the rupture on the secondary branch
of the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden
fault in Haiti in 2010 that killed over
220,000 people and caused over
US$12 billion in damage.
He added that the San Sebast-
ian/Bocono Venezuela faults rup-
tured in 1812, killing over 40,000.
In Guatemala in 1976, he said,
26,000 deaths were recorded and
in Port Royal, Jamaica (1692), 2,000
"The list goes on," he said.
"They do not rupture frequently,
but they are killers."
When an earthquake strikes,
Lynch said, "It is going to affect
everyone. We need to start discussing
that in a broader way."
He said a major issue with the
present site for the Couva Hospital
is the fact that it will attract more
development near the fault and is
creating a sixth growth pole in a
highly exposed area.
This, he said, is raising the stakes
in a gamble with nature.
"The evidence is clear. T&T is a
small island, a developing state, so
have to make judicious use of the
land. T&T has a lot of professionals
and they should all sit down and
debate this thing before we start to
build in an area that may be very
dangerous because you are creating
new risk," he said.
"The danger mightn't be clear
and present but ten to 20 years down
the road when you have increased
the population around that particular
area and you have a rupture, thou-
sands of people are going to get
killed, and we need to avert this,"
He said when the SRC met with
government ministers last month,
experts explained this situation.
Last Tuesday, the report was
released by the Urban Development
Corporation (Udecott) after concerns
were raised about the location of the
hospital being constructed close to
the active earthquake zone.
Dr Derek Gay, Udecott's consultant
on the hospital project, released a
commentary together with the geot-
echnical report, disagreeing with the
SRC's assessment of the fault's risk.
However, Lynch argued that there
is evidence of a prehistoric earth-
quake on the fault system. The
south-eastern Caribbean, including
T&T, is "statistically due for a major
He said earthquakes cannot be
predicted, but "we should still be
Lynch lamented that T&T does
not have a national building code
and said this needs to change as
soon as possible.
He said citizens need to lobby the
government to bring legislation to
improve public safety, fund the
building code, establish an obser-
vatory on the CRF and strengthen
local government resources.
Lynch said elected officials need
to be on board to assist citizens in
"They have the resources to make
things happen and we need a cham-
pion or two in the Cabinet, in the
Parliament," he said.
Lynch pointed to California,
where legislators have enacted more
than 32 pieces of legislation to pro-
mote earthquake safety.
The legislation, he said, is broken
into a number of codes, including
executive order, government codes,
education codes and resource codes.
He said in the education codes
in particular, mandatory earthquake
drills are done at schools.
Lynch pointed to the approach
used by the city of Seattle when an
active fault was discovered running
through the heart of the city. He
said they gathered their professionals
to develop a plan of action to deal
with the eventuality of an earth-
Lynch suggested the same
approach should be adopted in T&T.
Seismic expert on Couva Children's Hospital:
Design can't withstand
o o o
o -o - o
Former United National Con-
gress (UNC) minister and
Oropouche MP Trevor Sudama
received a standing ovation last
night as he made a surprise
appearance on a People s National
Movement (PNM) platform in San
While Sudama said he is not a
member of any political party, he
launched a scathing attack on the
People's Partnership (PP) as he took
centre stage at Navet Road, San
Fernando, where the PNM kicked
off its local government elections
campaign for the San Fernando
"We are facing a serious crisis
in our society, he said.
He said under the PP, delinquen-
cy and corruption were on the rise
and the economy was going
"There is a deep-seated malaise,"
he said, adding that there is a
diminishing of integrity.
"What we are facing today are
unprecedented levels of corrup-
tion," he said, eliciting cheers from
the audience, some of whom had
laughed when Sudama first took
"Deception and subterfuge," he
said, had replaced honesty and
"For the future of our country
it is imperative that we embark on
a new direction in T&T," he said.
While he stopped short of
endorsing the PNM, Sudama said
if the PNM "is committed to pro-
viding a new perspective for the
vision of T&T, a new era of hope,
then I will say that it has my best
Rowley, addressing the political
meeting at which the PNM's nine
candidates for the San Fernando
City Corporation were presented,
described Sudama's appearance on
the party's platform as a "signif-
He said Sudama's message is a
call for citizens to stand up and be
He commended Sudama for
being "strong enough and man
enough" to openly speak about the
state of affairs in T&T.
Rowley declared: "The doors are
wide open at the PNM. We do not
have all the answers. All are wel-
The Opposition Leader, together
with other PNM party executives,
hosted a two-fold event as they
formally opened the party's new
regional office at Navet Road, San
Fernando, and presented the party's
eight candidates for the SFCC.
Leading the slate of candidates
was former councilor Shaka Joseph,
who will be contesting the Mon
Repos/Navet electoral district,
which he held in the last council.
slams PP Govt
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