Govt CTV report 'vague', has flaws - expert

Last updated 05:00 24/07/2012

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A government report into the Canterbury Television building collapse has been dismissed as too "vague” and its conclusions based on “erroneous assumptions”.

Professor John Mander, a Cantabrian now working in the Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University, was yesterday critical of the Department of Building and Housing report prepared by Clark Hyland and Ashley Smith.

He told the Canterbury earthquakes royal commission hearing that the report was “comprehensively executed” but its analysis was based on several “erroneous assumptions”. Flaws were also noted by peer-reviewer William Holmes and external adviser Nigel Priestley.

The report concluded that once one concrete column in the building had failed, others were overloaded by gravity.

"This is too vague to be meaningful. One did not need to spend millions of dollars to come to this conclusion," Mander said.

"Somebody walking by on the street could have come up with this conclusion. A casual observer could have conducted that from the sidewalk."

The report needed to "delve deeper".

"The conclusion is so generic it could apply to virtually any kind of building collapse," he said. "Moreover, it was so vague it was neither helpful nor insightful." Mander said the building should have been red-stickered before the fatal collapse in the February 22, 2011, quake.

Christchurch buildings should have been treated as "guilty until proven innocent" after the September 2010 quake, he said.

"We're all guilty as engineers in the sense that we didn't realise the severity of what was lurking.

"From what I can tell, people went ahead in good faith and made inspections very quickly, and if they saw nothing, then nothing was wrong."

Authorities needed to be "a little more cautious" immediately after a quake, Mander said.

"I think we all now understand this to be the case, and as a consequence whenever there is a major aftershock, everybody is extremely cautious," he said.

"They weren't at the time, and I think that's because there were no fatalities [in the initial quake] and engineers and regulators were lulled into a false sense of security."

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- The Press

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