Top engineer sounds alert on Portugal’s seismic security

With the country registering an unusual number of land-based tremors since the start of the year, civil engineer Carlos Mineiro Aires has gone on record to say the government must revise Portugal’s law on seismic security “as fast as possible”.

The head of the Order of Engineers suggested he was not trying to be alarmist. But his message was sobering. Talking to Lusa, he stressed that there are “many urban rehabilitation projects that are mere cosmetic operations” that are then put on the market for “absurd prices”.

“The buyer has no idea that what he is buying has no resistance”, he warned – “and and will not have the behaviour that he believed it would have in the future”.

Alarm bells invariably sound when civil engineers criticise building safety regulations in a country known for earth tremors. It didn’t help that Aires went on to say that “no-one should be under the illusion that a well-calculated anti-seismic structure is resistant all demands.

“No. There are always damages”, he said.

But what he is hoping for are “norms and legislation more in line with the reality of the potential risk that Portugal faces”.

As things stand, “the exceptional and temporary regime applicable to the rehabilitation of buildings” as per a law passed in 2014 does not cover anti-seismic resistance.

Aires told Lusa that he is aware that the government does want to firm this up, but up till now it hasn’t.

And that’s the bottom line. “I know this is a concern of the government”, he stressed. “But we want it to become a priority”.

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