TAIPEI - The Taipei City Government issued its safety inspection report for the Taipei Dome yesterday, citing five key problems pertaining to the structure and the surrounding area's ability to handle a large-scale evacuation.
Deputy Mayor Charles Lin subsequently proposed two alternative plans to rectify the issue, one of which involves the dismantling of the entire Dome.
"In this case, the effective execution of emergency relief is not possible," Lin stated.
City officials cited that the total area of the Taipei Dome, which was increased from an initially planned 95,800 ping (a ping is approximately 3.31 square meters) to 149,000 ping increases the chances of a potential catastrophe.
The proximity of a planned storefront mall was also cited as another large risk in an emergency due to the large number of shoppers and Dome attendees who would need to be evacuated, as well as other people in the densely populated area.
The Dome's curved architectural features may also make it more susceptible to damage during an earthquake.
The report also raised concerns regarding the two linked underground parking areas for the Dome and the shopping areas, which could cause fire to spread from one area to another.
Lin said that the outer areas of the stadium did not provide adequate room for all potential evacuees in an emergency.
Currently, surrounding areas can hold approximately 60,000 people, far short of the space needed for the approximately 142,000 persons in a complete evacuation.
Finally, the city indicated that fire trucks and other emergency response vehicles would have difficulty accessing the area due to the already congested state of the city's main arteries, including Zhongxiao East Road and its intersection with Guangfu South Road.
Lin, convener of the city's special committee on safety inspections for the Taipei Dome, also presented two alternative options.
In the first option, the combined storefront mall would be dismantled while preserving the planned movie theatre and hotel. The linkage between the two underground parking areas would be sealed.
The second option would entail the complete dismantling of the existing Taipei Dome.
The construction site would then be restored into a public park. The storefront mall and shops would be preserved, but be allocated for public use.
Former Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin, who was in office during initial construction, defended his record and accused the new administration of attacking the previous administration in order to save their own reputation.
Construction Meets Int'l Safety Standards: Farglory
yResponding to the city's report with its own press conference, Farglory Group, the corporation tasked with the Dome's construction, stated that its construction meets international safety standards.
Tang Chia-feng, president of the company, said that in an emergency, spectators would be able evacuate the stadium within eight minutes.
In a worst-case scenario involving all five major structures of the area, Tang said that 140,000 people could be safely evacuated within 26 minutes, 41 seconds based on computer simulations.
Farglory also fired back at the city's proposed alternatives, stating that such actions would violate the terms of the agreement with the city government.
It urged both sides to engage in consultation under the spirit of the BOT (build operate transfer) agreement to generate a third alternative.
Farglory added that should the city go ahead with one of the plans without consulting it, it requests that the Taipei City Government purchase the Taipei Dome at its actual value or make it possible for all residents to become shareholders.