Hospital to be built despite earthquake concerns

By Admin Wednesday August 21 2013 in Caribbean
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PREYSAL: Following discussions with seismic experts and structural engineers, the $1.5 billion Children’s Hospital in Trinidad will be constructed at its present location, earmarked at Preysal, Couva.


“The hospital will be going forward,” said Health Minister, Dr. Fuad Khan. “It is just a matter of looking at where you need to put anything extra into the design and so on.”


Dr. Khan, along with Housing Minister, Dr. Roodal Moonilal, was responding during a meeting to reports that the site was a potential earthquake hazard. According to reports by local newspapers, the location is close to the Central Range earthquake fault line.


UWI Seismic Research Centre Seismologist, Dr. Joan Latchman and her team, as well as National Building Code Committee chairman, Shyankaran Lalla, were present at the meeting. Also on hand for the meeting were Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott) chairman, Jearlean John and Shanghai Construction officials, who are constructing the hospital.


Khan said discussions had been centered on design specifications of the hospital and the probability of an earthquake occurring and not solely focused on the hospital’s present location. A recommendation for the project to be halted or relocated was not made, he said.


“It came out in the discussions that there was no desire or no need to stop the building of the hospital,” said Khan. “What the concerns were – the stability of the hospital in the event of a 7.0 earthquake magnitude as occurred in Haiti and different places.”


Khan said the hospital’s designers, HKS Inc., had indicated that there were “1,700 piles (heavy beams) in the hospital itself and 700 in the retaining walls, which make it an extremely stable structure as compared to other structures”.


Khan said a team would be formed consisting of officials from the ministries of health and housing, the scientific groups who attended the meeting and the architects of HKS to “collaborate with sharing of knowledge and any new ideas”.


Khan assured there will also be constant analysis of the health structures in the country in the event of a major earthquake and disasters.


Dr. Moonilal said he was confident in the structural integrity of the design and building, as well as the geo-technical work that had been conducted. He said although other buildings in the area may be at risk in the event of an earthquake, the hospital will stand strong.


“We are sure that whatever happens, the hospital will be standing and I think that is where everyone is happy,” said Moonilal. “We want to bring certainty that the hospital will be standing and notwithstanding the very strong scientific information and so on, we are convinced of the work that was done.”


Moonilal said the twin-island republic’s ministries are “extremely open to the scientific information that must be factored into policy making at the political level, but also at the design and technical and engineering levels”.


He said no changes had been made to the design.


The engineering team apparently came away from the meeting with their concerns addressed, as Lalla indicated that the consultation had “allayed their fears with regards to the adherence to building codes for the building”.


Lalla said the hospital was being “built to the highest standards of the seismic codes” and in fact was not on the fault line but rather six kilometres away.

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