Earthquake safety discussed on World Engineering Day

Ljubljana, 4 March - The Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning will send a resolution on making at-risk buildings earthquake-proof to the government and parliament by the end of the year, Minister Andrej Vizjak said as he took part in an online discussion organised by the Slovenian Chamber of Engineers on Thursday.

"The resolution aims to set systemic foundations for a gradual comprehensive renovation of buildings at risk which will be carried out in the coming years and decades.

"The programme will enable all buildings to gradually become more earthquake-proof," Vizjak announced.

This will significantly contribute to reducing the risks of loss of lives, while helping reduce economic and other damage alongside strengthening the country's economy.

A study the ministry commissioned from the Ljubljana Faculty of Civil Engineering has shown that buildings in Slovenia are relatively vulnerable to quakes and that renovation of the most endangered ones should start immediately, he said.

Since this will be an extensive, long-term and expensive effort, funds from all available sources will be pooled, including private, municipal, state and EU funds.

Vizjak also called on engineers to take part in this programme "with which Slovenia wants to outpace earthquakes".

After the devastating 29 December earthquake in Croatia's Petrinja, the University of Primorska and the InnoRenew CoE research centre urged the Slovenian government to improve construction of new infrastructure and renovation of the existing one to make buildings earthquake-proof.

They said that almost 34% of Slovenia's population lives in an area where the strongest of earthquakes are possible, while studies showed that less than half of multi-apartment housing units meet modern construction standards.

If the Ljubljana area was hit by a powerful tremor, 30-70% of residents could be left without a roof over their heads, while the material damage would amount to at least EUR 7 billion, they said.

In late January the ministry was then urged by the parliamentary Infrastructure Committee to draft a programme for improving earthquake resistance of the most vulnerable buildings.

The Chamber of Engineers dedicated its conference, with which it is marking Slovenian and World Engineering Days, to living with earthquakes and other natural disasters. Its president ÄŚrtomir Remec stressed engineers had the know-how to prevent or eliminate the consequences of such disasters.