August notes, with another trial at L’Aquila (Massimiliano Stucchi)

translated by Google, revised

Since at least a couple years  August gives us death and damage: Amatrice in 2016, Ischia in 2017, this year the highways, the Pollino flood and a seismic sequence (Molise) that so far has produced only minor damage. And other news that is worth commenting on.

On the Morandi bridge in Genoa everything and even more was said. There is little to add, if not the reflection that bridges of that type, and also of another type, are vulnerable both to wear and possible external impacts (airplanes, drones, attacks, etc.). These bridges are designed to withstand a given external event that is never the maximum possible, also because in these cases this maximum is not known. So, like many things, they keep a level of risk. To be know.

The Bologna accident was quickly forgotten, perhaps due to the collapse of the Morandi bridge. Making a comparison a bit ‘daring, the accident in Bologna – without considering the derived effects, such as the explosion and the collapse of the viaduct – is comparable to the incidence of an earthquake of average energy (average probability, average damage), while that of Genoa is approaching the maximum earthquake possible (very low probability, high damage).
For this incident there have been no major controversies about responsibility and prevention: the truck driver is dead, some insurance will pay; the inconvenience for all travellers remained. However, the dynamic, as well illustrated by the images, indicates that maintaining the safety distance and respecting the speed limits, especially by lorries, is a utopia, as it is well known by those who frequently travel our motorways. One can ask what the tutors are for, but above all why the prohibitions are not strictly enforced (withdrawal of licenses, etc.). Unfortunately, the answer is known.

A lot has been said about the deaths of the Pollino flood, too. I note that the most important problem for those who do not take part in the rescue operations is to find responsibilities rather than take steps forward to prevent such incidents from happening again. Even the Prosecutor of Castrovillari has opened an investigation for “manslaughter …, flooding, … etc.” Flooding? So he is looking for the responsible of a flash flood, not even a possible missing alarm? Will you also look for an earthquake responsible?
And, please, do not call it “abnormal wave”! The term is already incorrect in case of tsunami, let forget if in case of a flash flood ….

In Molise a seismic sequence is going on in an area with minimal historical seismicity, but still at average seismic hazard (low frequent earthquakes of moderate energy; rare high energy ones, although not impossible). The update of the sequence is provided by INGV

As always, in these cases, the sequence could be now exhausting, or events of higher magnitude could occur (in 2002, in the not far area of S. Giuliano di Puglia, two events of magnitude around 6 occurred within 24 hours). I want to hope that the local authorities do not release reassuring statements, as happened for example in 2009 by the Responsible for Civil Protection of the Abruzzo Region, thus triggering the subsequent convocation of the meeting of experts in L’Aquila and what followed.

With respect to L’Aquila, today comes the news of the condemnation of two Supervisory Ministries (Infrastructure and Interior) for damages for two victims of the 2009 earthquake for

“not having diligently fulfilled the duties of supervision and control of their respective competence in the building sector, allowing a construction not in tune with the regulatory provisions in force at the time, unable to resist the action of an earthquake not having an anomalous or exceptional nature“.

I do not have the complete text yet and therefore I only read who writes it. Eg https% 3A% 2F% 2F20942 earthquake-eagle-of-the-2009-two-ministries-dellepoca-sentenced-to-damage-compensation-for-two-victims & utm_campaign = + the Journal + of + INGENIO & utm_medium = email & utm_source = MagNews & utm_content = 2356 +-+ 1308 + 29% 282018-08-23%

Apart from the reflections on the value of compensation (360,000 euros for the Ministry) and the usual limps of the sentences (what is an anomalous or exceptional quake, given that the city was classsified in the second seismic category at the time of construction, 1961?), the sentence opens interesting questions (I do not know – mea culpa – if it is the first one on the subject).
The sentence goes into details of the construction types of the time and the related shortcomings, and affirms that those responsible for the collapse would be those who exercised the control function (lacking, in this case, or lacking) on the buildings. Not the people but the last institutions. Not, for example, designers and builders, and not even the owners, all subjects that still sign the building process, albeit with different skills. And this, right at L’Aquila, where in the famous scientists trial other responsible were sought.

Now, apart from some distortions, the sentence goes in the direction of ascertaining responsibility for collapses that have resulted in deaths, which usually generates the majority of engineers to react. I am not a fanatic of handcuffs, but I believe that the establishment of a principle of responsibility, linked to violations or design deficiencies, as regards the damage suffered by buildings and not only the victims, should find place in the conscious management of the territory. Responsibility to be ascertained and discounted in ways to be determined, but not to be ignored or even canceled: why should the State, that is all of us, systematically be responsible for the reconstruction of abusive properties, for example, or not respecting the rules (which is very similar). What rules are they, if those who do not respect them are the same as those who respect them?

It is worth mentioning that, in contrast to the above, on last June the Italian Parliament approved a 5-star amendment-amnesty, approved by all (!) the parties with the exception of Forza Italia, which assessed it as insufficient (!), which in fact “condones” the building abuses that took place before the earthquake on buildings for which the private citizen are asking for reconstruction, abuses that otherwise would not have allowed access to the reconstruction contribution. That perhaps these “abuses” could have played a role in the damage or collapse of the building does not seem to touch the Parliament, which on the other hand took care to establish that the amnesty for areas affected by recent earthquakes is subject to “verification of compatibility with the rules on protection against hydrogeological risk “. So. In Genoa, individual and precise responsibilities are sought: for earthquakes we should ascertain collective, mass responsibility, and therefore they are cancelled.

I am afraid that “also this year we will do the prevention next year ….”


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