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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional

Water Tank Rupture Prompts Safety Checks

November 19, 1998

SANTA ANA — Water officials here aren't taking any chances with two storage tanks that are designed much like the Westminster tank that burst two months ago, sending a wall of water through a subdivision.

The two Santa Ana tanks, both on Bear Street, have been empty since before the Westminster disaster and will not be filled until they are examined, officials said Wednesday.

The city and the water district are confident that the above-ground tanks are secure, and city officials met last week with residents living near the structures to calm their fears.

On Sept. 21, the Westminster tank burst, sending five million gallons of water crashing into the neighborhood. The flood injured six people, displaced more than 30 families and caused $30 million in damage.

Westminster officials said Tuesday an investigation revealed that design and construction flaws caused the rupture. An identical tank in the city also was drained for inspection.

Critical steel reinforcements in the outer foundation were missing, and a steel cable reinforcing an inner section was misplaced during construction, engineers discovered. The concrete cracked, and water seeping in over the years corroded the steel, which snapped.

"I don't think that would happen here," said Santa Ana Water Manager Thom Coughran. "But we've hired a structural engineer to examine the tank before we put it back into full operation."

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