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Calif. Mulls New Guidelines to Define Quake-Proof Hospitals

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

The agency in charge of California's building codes is considering a new method to determine whether hospitals are earthquake-proof. Billions of dollars in construction costs hang in the balance. KPBS reporter Kenny Goldberg has the story.

State officials have said up to 40 percent of hospital buildings in California need to be seismically upgraded by 2013.   But hospitals might catch a break.

The California Building Standards Commission may adopt new modeling technology that can more accurately predict seismic risk. It's called HAZUS.

Structural engineer Evan Reis says the program calculates the risk at a particular location.

Reis : And basically overlays that demand on top of the building capacity, if you will, and comes up with a probabilistic estimate that the building will collapse in, that level of shaking.

If the state adopts the new program, it's believed about half of the hospital buildings at high risk could be reclassified.

Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

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