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Specialists gather to share knowledge on quake-preparedness - 12/10/2001

International specialists will gather in Wellington next week for a workshop on the measures that can be taken to reduce New Zealand's vulnerability to earthquakes.

Topics at the two-day workshop at Te Papa will include the latest international practice in response to and recovery after an earthquake, lessons learnt from recent overseas earthquakes, and steps that organisations can take to lower their vulnerability to earthquakes.

Sessions at the Wellington Lifelines Group International Workshop are scheduled for October 16 and 17. There is an optional guided tour of the Wellington and Hutt Valley segment of the Wellington Fault on October 15. The tour will include an inspection of mitigation measures at the Te Marua Water Treatment Plant, Transpower's substation at Haywards, and the Thorndon Overbridge on State Highway 1.

A major focus of the workshop is protection for infrastructure such as transportation, communications, gas, water, electricity, and sewerage.

" The potential to reduce social and economic losses through improved mitigation measures for engineering lifelines is substantial," said organiser David Brunsdon of the Wellington Lifelines Group.

" The workshop will focus on the latest techniques than can be applied, sometimes at relatively low cost, to reduce the vulnerability of services and utilities to earthquakes. Speakers and participants will also discuss asset and risk management as well as examining ways to improve post-earthquake recovery."

The workshop marks the tenth anniversary of major report on the vulnerability of Wellington's "engineering lifelines" to an earthquake. The 1991 report, produced by the Centre for Advanced Engineering at Canterbury University, is seen as a milestone in the way it brought together a wide range of organisations and specialists to address the vulnerability of the capital to an earthquake.

The Wellington Lifelines Group, the first such group in New Zealand, was formed as a result of the 1991 report and since then similar lifelines groups have formed throughout the country.

The Wellington group, which operates through the Wellington Regional Council, comprises utility and transport sector organisations, territorial authorities, emergency management agencies, research organisations, the insurance industry and consultants. Representatives from all these sectors will participate in next week's workshop.

The workshop is being sponsored by the Earthquake Commission and the Wellington Regional Council.

Note: The media are welcome to join the bus tour of the Wellington Fault on Monday (Oct 15). The tour will run between 9am and 2pm and start and end in central Wellington. Contact David Brunsdon or John Callan (details below) for more information.

Contact:
David Brunsdon, Ph: 021-679-338

Rian van Schalkwyk, Wellington Regional Council, Ph: 04-384-5708

John Callan, Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited (GNS), Ph: 04-570-1444, or 025-402-571