Seismic Safety at the New Venue
Despite the terrible earthquake that occurred on 6 April, a series of checks and inspections conducted over the past few weeks have confirmed that full seismic safety conditions are in place for the next G8 Summit to be held in the "Vincenzo Giudice" Guardia di Finanza School complex in Coppito. The tremor, which struck at 5.8 on the Richter Scale (6.3 on the Moment Magnitude Scale), was a formidable test for the complex as a whole, which comprises over 50 separate buildings.
In the hours immediately following the earthquake, the only damage found by experts conducting visual inspections of the various buildings was the kind of typical damage that one might expect to see in safe buildings: i.e. generally light damage affecting only non-structural parts. In fact it was the result of those inspections that prompted the decision to use the complex as the headquarters of the Di.Coma.C rescue coordination team's activities involving over 1,000 firemen, Red Cross workers, volunteers, Armed Forces personnel and regional staff.
The tremor in the area was particularly strong, as is clearly shown by the readings taken at the National Accelerometric Network stations closest to the quake area. The readings show maximum acceleration at ground level to have been between 48% and 66% of the acceleration of gravity. This is a far higher figure than is envisaged in the construction laws currently in force (Ministerial Decree dated 14/01/2008), which specify 26% of the acceleration of gravity for normal buildings and 33% for strategic buildings.
After the Di.Coma.C was set up in the Guardia di Finanza School, the Civil Protection Department immediately began to probe the structural features of the various buildings in far greater depth, examining their original plans and structural reports while also setting up ongoing accelerometric monitoring of the most important buildings, conducting seismic analyses - naturally resorting to more modern methods than those that could have been used when the buildings were erected in the late 'eighties and early 'nineties - and inspecting the materials used in the construction, with special reference to the specifications of the concrete employed.
The inspection of the original plans and initial results from the tests conducted on the materials have been positive. In particular, maximum safety precautions seem to have been adopted in planning the structure, in accordance with anti-seismic criteria that go well beyond the minimal standards in force at the time (Ministerial Decree dated 24 January 1986). The buildings were also found to have been built with considerable attention to detail, to the point where they actually meet the standards in force today.
The entire complex, which covers an area of some 45 hectares, is subject to ongoing monitoring at the present time, and it has also been carefully inspected by foreign technicians called in by the Civil Protection Department. These technicians have been cooperating in recent weeks in testing the accessibility and fitness for use of buildings affected by the earthquake, and they too have confirmed the structure's strength and total accessibility.