Monday, March 14, 2011

'We're told not to breathe the air – it's scary'

Japan experienced a 9.0 earthquake which has produced numerous aftershocks and tsunamis. Japanese building codes are some of the best in world allowing many buildings to survive and mitigating the impact of the disaster. Even so, Japan relies on nuclear power and the aftershocks have set one of the reactors on fire (the secondary containment vessel suffered and explosion. As of this writing, the primary containment vessel remains intact). Radiation is leaking out and it is feared this catastrophe could rival the Three Mile Island disaster. Japan was prepared for the earthquake. They are also prepared for tsunamis. They were not prepared for the combination of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.

Recently Cincinnati unveiled its newest and tallest skyscraper pictured at the top. The top is meant to evoke a crystal crown and is made of class and steel. Looking at this building and several others that make up the Cincinnati skyline, I wonder how many were constructed with an earthquake in mind? Unlike other cities, Cincinnati does not have a history of earthquakes making it unlikely that planners used shock absorbing technology or counter-weights to allow the buildings to survive an earthquake. Such technology is proven but also expensive. Incurring such additional costs in the Tri-State region would probably not get approved by investors.

However, there is a little matter of this:

New Madrid fault has been overdue for an earthquake for many decades. There is the very real possibility with the moon moving closer to the earth than it has in 18 years the additional gravitational pull could trigger additional earthquakes. As I pointed out in an earlier blog, the hills of Cincinnati combined with lots of tall buildings would amplify the effects of any quakes along the New Madrid fault. The five bridges over the Ohio would either collapse or be severely damaged. In-turn, this would shut down the Interstates (I-71, I-75 and I-74). The shut-down of the Interstates would delay relief and recovery efforts. The Ohio River would flood creating mudslides and property damage.

Instead of arguing about casinos and streetcars, city planners need to start asking some serious questions about how the city is going to recover from an earthquake.

Asia, World - The Independent

Warning from Russian Institute on Physics

No comments: