Public aquarium needs safety check, says report

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A 32,000-gallon display tank at a public aquarium in Blackpool needs urgent safety checks, zoo licencsing inspectors have warned.

According to a report from the BBC, the 32,000-gallon/145,280 litre tank and others at the Blackpool Tower aquarium in Lancashire must be "regarded as suspect" due to rusty reinforcement rods in their concrete supports. The report was heard by Blackpool Council's Public Protection Sub Committee yesterday. Leisure Parcs, the owner of the visitor attraction told the BBC that it was acting upon the findings.

It says that licensing inspectors said that no engineers' reports were available for the tank, which contains around 145 tonnes of water, and that a series of flaws needed to be addressed: "There were no engineer's reports available in terms of stress analysis in tanks and an estimate of their maximum safe service life. Nevertheless, even casual observations on concrete supports indicated there was 'rust burst' undermining the integrity of the concrete."

Blackpool Today says the report claims that these faults had caused a twisting of the aquarium glass in adjacent tanks, and that many of the other items of equipment in use were old, salt-caked and rusty. However, despite the faults, the inspectors agreed to renew the operating licence pending a more detailed examination.

"There is a large question mark over the purpose, value, working arrangements, and general safety of this establishment. To give the operators adequate time to respond to current substantial concerns, it is proposed a licence be reissued pending a full renewal inspection in March 2007. In the interim, the operators may need to pay close attention to remedying any critical issues, in terms of public and employee health and safety."

The aquarium is one of the UK's oldest and first opened in 1875. It pre-dates the Blackpool Tower, which was inspired by the Eiffel Tower, by 20 years.