17 November 2016

Media release: Structural engineers working hard to assess and analyse damage

Hundreds of engineers have been mobilised to check buildings and infrastructure after the Kaikoura earthquake.

Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand Chief Executive Susan Freeman-Greene says there has been a massive response from engineers, with hundreds working around the clock in the South Island and Wellington since the early hours of Monday.

“At the moment, engineers continue to work with local authorities and building owners to assess buildings and infrastructure, which means checking whether the earthquakes have had any effect on their structural integrity. Public safety is engineers’ paramount concern.

“Some buildings seem to have been subjected to more severe shaking than others. It’s important to gather information so we can understand why and what needs to be learned.

“Engineers and others across the industry will need to work with councils and the Government to understand what this new information means for standards of design and construction.”

New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering (NZSEE) President Peter Smith says every building – and every earthquake – is unique, with many factors working together to determine a building’s performance.

“Engineers have been working hard to identify any buildings that pose a risk to public safety, and are taking a precautionary approach if they suspect any risk.”

Structural Engineering Society (SESOC) President Paul Campbell says structural engineers are working together to ensure consistency and make sure they spot trends.

“Nearly 200 structural engineers met in Wellington last night to share what they are learning from  inspections and assessments, so that we can establish an understanding of the range of impacts across different types of buildings

Mr Campbell says technical meetings like this are routinely organised following significant events, and were regularly held for several years following the Canterbury earthquakes. Individual buildings were not discussed.

“Structural engineers are gathering and analysing information as it comes in. We’ll be talking in more detail about this as soon as we can.”