Quake concerns force ACC out of Greymouth building

By Viv Logie of the Greymouth Star

ACC began reviewing the earthquake safety of all its offices after the February 2011 earthquake. Image / File
ACC began reviewing the earthquake safety of all its offices after the February 2011 earthquake. Image / File

The Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) has vacated its Greymouth premises due to earthquake concerns, and the owner of Brunner House expects his other tenant will follow suit.

ACC said it had received engineering advice on Friday that the Tainui Street building; originally the St James Theatre; was earthquake prone. Staff moved out immediately.

The other tenant, Child, Youth and Family continues to lease the first floor but Brunner House owner Ben Alexander, of Christchurch, said he expected they would also vacate, at least temporarily.

According to ACC: "The safety of staff and clients is paramount to ACC, which is why we made the decision to vacate the building immediately."

Queries have been referred to the Greymouth branch of Work and Income in the meantime.

Mr Alexander said the tenant had commissioned an engineer, and he was in the process of having his own report done to assess the safety of the building.

He understood the building was fine internally, after a major rebuild about two years ago.

"Most of the issues are external. I believe it is to do with unreinforced brickwork, and the brickwork on the outside of Brunner House is contained in concrete.

"From what I understand, contained brickwork is vastly safer than uncontained and in Christchurch during the big earthquake buildings that did not have contained brickwork, the issues were severe."

Having endured the Christchurch quakes, Mr Alexander said he understood why the decision had been taken to move out.

"It is unnerving and the West Coast is being proactive getting us to do the work before something may happen."

In the long run, it had to be better for everyone, "except from an economic point of view, it will be harder on landlords".

ACC began reviewing the earthquake safety of all its offices after the February 2011 earthquake. That involved checking council registers for listings of buildings that were earthquake-prone, as well as obtaining seismic ratings of buildings from landlords, or by commissioning their own engineer's reports.

ACC today apologised for the disruption, and stressed that the move was made to ensure the safety of staff and clients.

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