The ACT Government is asking builders to protect against inundation destabilising construction sites to avoid a repeat of Saturday (6 August), when hundreds of tonnes of earth, concrete and scaffolding cascaded into an excavation pit in Woden.
Builders have been instructed to ensure regular site inspections, especially of stormwater systems (including pipes, drains, pits and swales).
Phillipa Mitch lives in the Bellerive Retirement Village in Lyons and was downstairs playing cards on the day when her daughter rang.
“She asked where the landslide was, and I said, ‘What landslide?'”
Around the block, on the corner of Melrose Drive and Launceston Street in Phillip, police and firefighters were roping off the construction site and evacuating the Sky Park car park next door.
Chunks of retaining wall and the exit road for the car park had collapsed into the excavation pit, some 20 metres deep, which will underpin Geocon’s massive new multi-million-dollar WOVA residential and commercial development.
No one was injured, but WorkSafe ACT has imposed prohibition and non-disturbance notices on the site while investigators work out what happened and what implications it may have for the structural integrity of the adjacent car park.
The excavation will accommodate the multi-storey underground car park for the complex.
In an email sent on Monday (8 August), the ACT Construction Occupations Registrar alerted “all builders” to the potential for destabilisation of earthworks following recent wet weather.
“The recent heavy rainfall events have led to situations on building sites where the ground has become supersaturated leading to destabilisation and potential failure of temporary earthworks and retaining walls, especially in basement construction,” the email reads.
More than a month’s worth of rain was delivered in less than two days across parts of the Territory on 4 and 5 August, with Canberra Airport recording 43.8 millimetres.
The Registrar says this presents a “significant safety risk”.
“As it is likely that similar wet weather will continue in the near future, the registrar requests that all builders ensure the stability of their works, including temporary earthworks, retaining walls and basement construction.”
Geocon has declined to comment.