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180pxl.gif (2691 bytes)Lifeline Damage and Fire: Kocaeli, Turkey Earthquake, August 17, 1999

by Charles Scawthorn, Senior Vice President EQE International, Inc.
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Lifeline Damage

Lifeline damage was moderate to major, as follows:

Electric – power failed within minutes of the earthquake, but was generally restored to most areas within several days. Substations did not appear to be damaged, nor transmission lines or towers, except where the lines crossed the fault.  The photograph at right shows a tower pulled over due to  the conductors being put in tension at the fault crossing  (right lateral fault displacement--fault is to north, or left, of the tower).

Telephone – service continued with only minor disruptions, and cell service was reportedly uninterrupted.

Gas – there is no domestic underground gas piping in the area. It is unknown as of this writing if there are bulk transmission lines in the area.

Rail – rail lines were buckled at fault crossings, but repairs were quickly effected, and rail service restored within several days.

Highways – roads and highways were generally undamaged except for several highway bridges intersected by traces of the fault – where this put the bridge in tension, spans were pulled off their beam seats, and the spans collapsed. The main motorway connecting Istanbul and Ankara passes along the north shore of Izmit Bay and close to Adapazari – in general, it was undamaged.

Water – The main source of water is the recently constructed Izmit Water Project, built and operated by Thames Water. It is the largest privatized water project in the world as of this writing, and replaces a variety of low quality sources for the various municipalities in the area. The wholesale system, which begins in the hills south of Yuvacik at a 60 million cu. meter reservoir impounded by a 40 m. high clay core earthen dam, was constructed in the early 1990’s. The dam is uninstrumented, and experienced only very minor settlements, although the reservoir is reported to have experienced a 2 m. amplitude seiche. Water is conveyed approximately 4 km. from the dam to a water treatment plant, via a steel pipe of 2.2 m. diameter.

The water treatment plant is 440 million liter/day capacity (110 mgd) and employs a standard treatment process of aeration, flocculation/sedimentation, sand filtration and chlorination. Buildings, in-ground concrete balancing reservoir and equipment were undamaged,  with the exception of fiberglass piping in the clarifiers, which are cantilevered downward approximately 3 m. In basins which were not in use at the time, and empty, these ‘trident’ pipes cracked and/or broke at their upper (base) end. However, sufficient capacity remained for the plant to operate. Daily demand at the time of the earthquake is 2,500 l/s but, following the earthquake, demand increased to 3,200 l/s, which was attributed to leakage along the transmission line. Downstream of the plant, water is conveyed to retail customers via a 2.2 m. spiral-welded steel pipe, which was reportedly undamaged except at clean-out connections at low points, where flanged fittings appear to have cracked at perhaps a dozen locations. The transmission line was being scheduled for a one day outage for Aug. 26 (ie, nine days after the earthquake) for repair of these leaks.

Approximately one km. downstream of the plant, the steel transmission line crosses the fault trace. This location was inspected and found to have approximately a 2 m. right lateral offset but, while some water flowing to the surface was observed (it was raining at the time, however), the pipe was reportedly undamaged at this location.

Impacts of the earthquake on water retailers and urban distribution pipe networks are unknown in detail as of this writing, but it was known that the retailers in general were able to store water in their local distribution reservoirs, but were unable to distribute it due to numerous breaks in the distribution system. Potable water needs were being served by tanker trucks supplied from the Izmit water treatment plant and from several naval vessels in the Bay, and by bottled water.

Wastewater – no information was available at the time of writing.

Fire Following Earthquake

A number of ignitions occurred in building collapses, but these were generally confined to the building of origin, due to the prevalent non-flammable building materials. The most dramatic fire was at the Tupras oil refinery, where it appears that two separate fires initiated during the earthquake, as follows:


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