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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Christchurch earthquake demolition process 'a train wreck'

Christchurch earthquake demolition process 'a train wreck'

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 05:00 16/03/2011
 
 
A Christchurch contractor has dubbed the process for demolishing earthquake-damaged buildings a "train wreck".

Barry Foster, of Barry Foster Contracting, said his firm had arranged to "deconstruct" the old flour silo in Addington before Civil Defence national controller John Hamilton approved its demolition.

Hamilton has defended the demolition, saying Urban Search and Rescue engineers deemed the Lincoln Rd building a threat to nearby businesses and that it could not be stabilised within a reasonable time.

Foster said the firm had taken in its own engineers, who said that while the brick veneer of the building, already partly collapsed, was unsafe, the structure would be sound once the veneer was stripped away.

The firm had planned to save the estimated 450 cubic metres of imported Oregon timber from the building, as well as the machinery, which was about 150 years old, he said.

"Why are these people going in and wrecking everything? I just don't understand," he said. "Im not a greenie or anything like that. It's terrible to see this s... going on. I've got a plan in place to save a lot of stuff."

Foster said his firm thought it had the contract until a crew turned up with instructions to demolish the building.

"It just happened so quick. We were doing it all through the right channels," he said.

"It's just a train wreck and a disaster. There's no co-ordination."

Christchurch door manufacturer Ron Zwarst, who had planned to use the salvaged timber, said the building was not as dangerous as it was made out to be.

"We've got one company that's going to go in and smash it up, and another that was going to go in there and salvage materials that were of use or significance," he said.

Hamilton said the demolition was triggered by Urban Search and Rescue engineers.

The demolition was approved only after assessments by city council heritage staff and inspections by engineers.

"That process was followed," he said.

One part of the silo's wall had collapsed on to cars and there were concerns a further collapse could affect nearby businesses.

"The report says that it was not thought that it was possible to make the building safe and secure within a reasonable time frame, given its scale and height and the additional damage being experienced as a result of aftershocks," Hamilton said.

The owner had been advised through an agent, he said.

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