FACE OF DIS­AS­TER

The Dominion Post - - Front Page - Damian Ge­orge damian.ge­[email protected]

Welling­to­ni­ans could flee the re­gion at a rate of 10,000 peo­ple per day fol­low­ing a large earth­quake on the Welling­ton Fault, with trans­port and vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture tak­ing months or even years to re­pair.

The Welling­ton Life­lines Re­gional Re­silience Pro­ject has laid bare the dev­as­ta­tion fac­ing the re­gion should vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture not be built or up­graded be­fore a mag­ni­tude 7.5 quake hits.

And even with a 20-year, $5.3 bil­lion in­vest­ment pro­gramme, the re­gion would still face ma­jor dis­rup­tions to its econ­omy, tourism and ev­ery­day func­tions.

Why 7.5?

The Welling­ton Life­lines Group based its mod­el­ling on a mag­ni­tude 7.5 earth­quake be­cause it rep­re­sented a ma­jor event that still al­lowed for a cred­i­ble re­cov­ery.

It was also the mag­ni­tude used for in­sur­ance and busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity plan­ning, the group said.

There was a 10 per cent chance of a 7.5-mag­ni­tude earth­quake oc­cur­ring within the Welling­ton re­gion in the next 100 years.

Trans­port car­nage

It would be two weeks be­fore emer­gency ve­hi­cles could op­er­ate be­tween Welling­ton Air­port and the cen­tral city, in­clud­ing the Cook Strait ferry ter­mi­nals, if a quake were to strike today.

Hutt Val­ley would be the worst-af­fected re­gional area – cut off from cen­tral Welling­ton and the air­port for three months.

It would take 104 days for full ser­vice to be re­stored be­tween Welling­ton Air­port and the cen­tral city, and up to six months for trans­port links to be fully re­stored be­tween cen­tral Welling­ton and the Hutt Val­ley.

If the rec­om­mended changes were made, it would still be two weeks be­fore emer­gency ve­hi­cles could op­er­ate be­tween the air­port and cen­tral Welling­ton, but as lit­tle as 15 days be­fore they could op­er­ate be­tween the air­port and the Hutt Val­ley.

Rail network

Welling­ton’s rail network would be closed to freight for be­tween one and three years, and cut off to pas­sen­gers for three to 31⁄2 years, ac­cord­ing to the report.

In­ter­is­lander freight would be out of ac­tion for two to three years.

If the full suite of in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments were made, freight would be out of ac­tion for be­tween six months and 21⁄2 years; pas­sen­ger ser­vices would be cut for just un­der three years; and In­ter­is­lander freight would be re­stored within one to 21⁄2 years.

Cen­trePort

With no in­ter­ven­tion, Cen­trePort’s ferry ter­mi­nal would not be func­tional for one to three years, and would not re­turn to full ser­vice for up to three years.

The main Thorn­don ter­mi­nal would be func­tional in one to three months, but

would not re­turn to full ser­vice for at least three years.

With in­vest­ment, the ferry ter­mi­nal would be func­tional in four weeks and would re­turn to full ser­vice in two years.

The Thorn­don ter­mi­nal would also be func­tional in four weeks, but would still not re­turn to full ser­vice for at least three years.

Elec­tric­ity and wa­ter

As it stands, the ma­jor­ity of the lower North Is­land would be without elec­tric­ity for up to six months, with the rest out for up to one month.

If the up­grades were made, most of the lower North Is­land would be cut off for up to three months, with the rest out for up to a month.

Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vices would be sev­ered for up to a month across most of the re­gion; this would re­duce to up to a week if the changes were made.

Wa­ter out­ages would con­tinue for up to six months in most of the re­gion if the sta­tus quo was re­tained. But with the rec­om­mended changes, they would last for up to three months in the lower part of the re­gion, one month in the cen­tral part of the re­gion, and six months in the up­per part of the re­gion.

Tourism and busi­ness

With the ferry and road dis­rup­tions, Welling­ton could ex­pect do­mes­tic tourism to be down by 92 per cent and in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors to be down 96 per cent for the first three months.

Those time frames would re­duce to about one month fol­low­ing the nec­es­sary up­grades.

And fol­low­ing the big one, peo­ple could start leav­ing the re­gion at a rate of 10,000 per day af­ter the first two weeks.

How­ever, it was ex­pected that be­tween 40 per cent and 85 per cent of peo­ple would re­turn to the re­gion within a year, if ser­vices were re­stored.

‘‘Ev­i­dence from the Christchur­ch earth­quakes and other dis­as­ters in­di­cates that peo­ple are far more likely to re­lo­cate close to home, and to then re­turn if and when con­di­tions im­prove,’’ the report said.

Es­ti­mates show that if up to 30 per cent of com­mer­cial prop­er­ties across the re­gion were un­us­able fol­low­ing the quake, 10 per cent of busi­nesses would leave the re­gion.

Ex­ploratory drilling to find an al­ter­na­tive route to run a drinking wa­ter pipe and keep the cap­i­tal afloat in a dis­as­ter is near­ing its end. De­signs for the re­silient wa­ter source, ear­marked to cost $116 mil­lion, can get un­der way in the new year if the in­ves­tiga­tive stage of the cross-har­bour pipe­line pro­ject is fin­ished by Christ­mas. The jack-up barge, stead­fast on the seabed in Welling­ton Har­bour, has been spot­ted in points be­tween Lowry and Evans bays through­out the year. The equip­ment, a sec­ond­ment from Auck­land’s wa­ter­front prepa­ra­tions for the Amer­ica’s Cup, drills ev­ery day to col­lect cores that are stud­ied and tracked for the suit­abil­ity for the pro­ject. So far, ev­ery­thing looked good, Grif­fiths Drilling man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Mel Grif­fiths (pic­tured right) said. The pipe­line was one of two op­tions con­sid­ered to en­sure the cap­i­tal con­tin­ued to have a freshwater sup­ply should it be hit by a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter. The other in­volved sourc­ing wa­ter us­ing bores from the Wai­whetu Aquifer, near Matiu/Somes Is­land. But the op­tion was aban­doned due to the poor quan­tity and qual­ity of wa­ter found. Welling­ton Wa­ter com­mu­nity en­gage­ment man­ager Alex van Paassen said it was an ex­pen­sive pro­ject but one Welling­ton could not do without.

There is a 10 per cent chance of a 7.5-mag­ni­tude quake oc­cur­ring on the Welling­ton Fault in the next 100 years.

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