18 Sep 2009

Building rules to stay despite lower earthquake risk

9:03 pm on 18 September 2009

Wellington City Council says new earthquake rules for buildings will not be relaxed, despite new research downplaying fears of a major tremor.

A study by GNS Science costing $3.5 million has found the risk of Wellington being flattened by a major earthquake is dramatically less than it was. It says the fault running through the city is 50% less likely to rupture in the next 100 years than was previously thought.

Currently more than a thousand buildings are earmarked for strengthening work in the Wellington. But the Mayor, Kerry Prendergast, says the Wellington fault line, along with others, could still cause major damage.

Ms Prendergast says the new information should save the council $2 million a year in insurance premiums.

GNS Science lead scientist Russ Van Dissen says a perception the Wellington fault is overdue is now outdated. He says the fault makes fewer earthquakes than previously thought and was also eased by the Wairarapa earthquake of 1855.

However, he says work to strengthen buildings is still warranted because there are many faults in the region that could still cause structural damage.