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Shoddy practice

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Neil Glaser just said: "The media blames everything on 'shoddy
construction'. "

I think if you take a closer look at many of the better news sources, the
media also point out that engineers, owners, inspectors, and code enforcers
share the responsibility for poor performance in earthquakes. Perhaps the
media just get used to saying the same thing over and over again so they
resort to short-hand summaries.

In 1994, the Ca. Seismic Safety Commission concluded that "Poor quality in
design, plan review, inspection, and construction were encountered over and
over in the buildings damaged by the earthquake. California's current system
of building design and construction encourages individual gambles that add
up to significant risks..."

In 1989: "Structures which sustained damage in the Loma Prieta earthquake
were more or less likely to do so based upon one or more of a number of
relatively random factors: quality of design, quality and extent of
engineering, quality of materials, quality of construction techniques,
quality of inspection, quality of maintenance, soils, geology, and the
unique characteristics of this particularly event and the degree to which
they combined with any or all of the previous factors."

Similarly after 1933 Long Beach, the Coroner's Jury concluded: "The great
amount of damage that resulted from this shock was due to faulty
construction of the buildings damaged. Buildings of good construction
escaped damage or came through with only minor damage even though situated
directly adjacent to buildings that were demolished... They suffered serious
damage not only because of inadequate provision for lateral stresses but in
an important degree because of utter lack of efficiency in workmanship."

Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of the Santa Rosa quake and the 12th for
Whittier.

History repeats. Our construction practice has a great deal in common with
Taiwan, Greece,  as well as Turkey. Are we now all that much better than our
predecessors here in the US?

Fred Turner, Staff Structural Engineer, California Seismic Safety
Commission, 1755 Creekside Oaks Drive Suite 100, Sacramento, CA 95833
916-263-0582 Work Phone, 916-263-0594 Fax fturner(--nospam--at)quiknet.com