Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 27th 2013 Contents A8
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, September 27, 2013
After near three-and-a-half hours of debate on
Wednesday night seismologists and geo-technical
experts remained divided on the issue of whether
the Central Range Fault system poses seismic risk
to the $1.5 billion Couva Children s Hospital project
UWI Seismic Research Centre director Dr Joan
Latchman, addressing an Association of Profes-
sional Engineers of T&T (APETT) seminar on proj-
ect, urged the Urban Development Corporation of
T&T (Udecott) to "err on the side of caution" as
it moves forward with
the People's Partnership
"The global seismic
system is currently in a
very elevated state of
activity. Since 2004 we
have had some of the
largest earthquakes the
global system is capable
of and so we should not
think that Trinidad, sit-
ting within a global sys-
tem, is somehow isolat-
ed from these large
massive events that are occurring around the world,"
The seminar, held at Cruise Ship Complex, Port-
of-Spain, was arranged by APETT to give Udecott
and its consultants an opportunity to address
seismic concerns raised in a series of exclusive T&T
Guardian articles last month.
Latchman, who was among experts raising the
red flag on the project's location near the active
fault system, said the fault system in (on land)
Trinidad has been changing and the fact of the
moderate magnitude earthquakes are being recorded
here suggests that the faults on land "can deliver
some large earthquakes."
She said: "There appears to be information to
suggest that on land Trinidad can have earthquakes
of significant magnitudes in the general T&T area.
"There is no reason for us not to err on the side
of caution as we go forward in designing a critical
facility, such as a hospital.
Udecott Chairman Jerlean John, in her opening
remarks at the seminar, said the state agency had
done its homework and was assured that the Central
Range Fault posed no seismic threat to the proj-
ect.John added: "Full due diligence was adhered to
before the design and construction of the Couva
Children's Hospital even commenced."
She told engineers that comprehensive geo-tech-
nical investigations were conducted by the Dr
Dereck Gay-headed Earth Investigations Systems
She added: "EISL's advice stated the identified
seismic and geo-technical hazards posed no unto-
ward threat that could not be addressed by exer-
cising due diligence and adherence to appropriate
building codes and standards as currently mandated
by the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, Designs
John said Udecott did not approach its
mandate/projects in an "adhoc fashion."
Gay, EISL managing director, the company that
conducted geo-technical testing of the hospital's
Preysal site, said the Central Range Fault was inca-
pable of producing a major earthquake.
He said the seismicity of T&T was low and faults
here could not produce earthquakes anywhere near
7.5 magnitude as being alluded to in recent research
papers produced on the Central Range Fault.
In fact, Gay, in his near 50 minutes long technical
presentation, Seismic Hazard in Trinidad/The
Couva Children's Hospital and Training Centre,
sought to pick apart research conducted by US
Professor Dr John Weber and researchers
Paul Mann and David Soto.
They wrote that the Central Range Fault
was active and had the potential to produce
However, Gay contended that their
research did not cover sufficient land space
on the fault to make accurate determina-
tions on the strength of earthquakes that
could be produced by the Central Range
He said Trinidad had a low level seis-
micity (the frequency or magnitude of
earthquake activity in a given area) and
it was unlikely major earthquakes could
be experienced here.
However Latchman argued that even
at a very low level of seismicity earthquakes
of magnitude six and near eight were
experienced in the past off shore and on
land in T&T.
"The fact that Trinidad on land has
been low level seismicity does not imply
we cannot have a large massive event in
on land Trinidad," she said.
Gay assured that all relevant tests were
conducted for the project. He said based
on his calculations the earthquake param-
eter used for the project is a magnitude
six, which is more realistic than a 7.5 mag-
Engineer Dr Ian Khan Kernahan, in his
contribution, called for transparency in
the operations at Udecott.
He contended that foreign firms, in the
design and build model, undermined local
agencies when they used their own earth-
quake analysis without consulting local
bodies such as the Seismic Centre.
Experts still divided on hospital issue
"There is no
reason for us
not to err on
the side of
caution as we
go forward in
such as a
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