Mall expansion quake proof, says geologist-A A +A
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
A GEOLOGIST presented as witness in the environmental case against the SM Baguio’s mall expansion project testified the development could withstand strong earthquakes and prevent soil erosion.
Engineer Jose Reinerio Federison, the geologist who drafted the Environmental Geologic Assessment Report (Egar) component of the Environmental Project Report and Management Plan of the mall expansion project, said based on the prevailing National Structural Code the structure to be built by the retail giant will be able to withstand a 7.8-magnitude earthquake similar to the 1990 Luzon Killer quake.
Federison said after the 1990 earthquake, the National Structural Code was revised so that structures built after the earthquake will be able to withstand a similar or higher magnitude tremor.
The geologist said aside from the Digdig fault, which is 40 kilometers away from the city and caused the earthquake in 1990, the Tubao and San Jose faults are nearer to Baguio by about 9 to 11 kilometers and can cause a much higher ground acceleration compared to the killer earthquake.
He recommended in the Egar for SM to build a structure designed to withstand strong quakes.
He added that with the recommendations made in the report, structural engineers and designers hired by mall authorities will be able to come up with such a design.
Apart from being earthquake-ready, he also discussed in court the current soil situation in the 8.5-hectare site of what was supposed to be the Pines Resort.
The geologist said the mall and its surroundings are experiencing top soil erosion which claimed can be addressed by the mall expansion. This backs earlier statements made by SM Supermalls vice president Bien Mateo on the benefits of the development.
Prosecution lead counsel Cristopher Donaal, however, questioned Federison stressing without the mall expansion, planting and presence of trees alone can already solve soil erosion.
The witness confirmed this but said, “I can’t say which one is better but both planting trees and the mall expansion will address soil erosion,” he said.
Donaal also interrogated the witness on the importance of open spaces claiming the mall expansion will leave smaller open spaces in the area, particularly in the Governor Pack Road area.
Defense lawyer Vladimir Uy, on the other hand, stressed even with the mall expansion project, the entire property of SM including its existing mall and the expansion will still comply with the minimum requirement for open space or 30 percent of the entire 8.5-hectare property.
Uy said the mall will have more than enough open space than required by law.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Forest Management Bureau regional technical director Augusto Lagon will be presented as defense witness of SM and co-defendants DENR and Department of Public Works and Highways. (JM Agreda)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 03, 2012.