Sea Life Park Falling Apart- A Disaster Waiting To Happen
A leak from a recent private inspection alleges the park covered up imminent building collapses, endangering the public and animals.
Dolphins are eating corroded metal resulting in having their stomachs pumped. Sea Life Park, Hawaii
News Release from Keiko Conservation
WAIMANALO, HAWAII, Sept. 24, 2018 – Details of a building inspection at Sea Life Park were recently leaked, sparking serious public safety concerns. As to why the public hasn’t been alerted of this issue, “the engineer’s final report was not released, they were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement… The building is collapsing but the company doesn’t close the building according to the General Manager Valerie King, because it makes too much money.”
One building in desperate need of repair was reported to be the Hawaiian Ocean Theater, where the dolphin shows are held. “The structure is an open beam structure, with 12 glue-lams 40 feet long, weighing 10 tons or more,” the leak stated. Upon inspection, an engineer allegedly claimed “all of the brackets are deteriorated to the point when I touched one of the brackets it fell off in my hand,” and were told, “the dolphin’s stomachs have to be cleared due to them eating chunks of steal [sic] when it falls in the water…
The brackets that tie the cross girders to the glue-lams are completely corroded due to contact to salt air as well, they have been left untreated for many years, and are no longer structurally intact.” The amphitheater surrounding the tank holds up to 700 people.
The engineer allegedly described it as “a disaster waiting to happen,” claiming, “when the wind was blowing, the building was moving, if this building collapses during a show, the dolphins, and possibly hundreds of people will be injured or possibly killed.” It was observed that General Manager, “Valerie King knows this building should be closed down for repairs, but it makes too much money to do that anytime soon, so it will someday be repaired, but it might be too late.”
It also claims Hawaii news agencies were contacted, but, “they know this park is a big attraction, draws a lot of tourism, impacts the local economy, and none of them have printed a word about this.”
This inspection was allegedly done by an engineer who “was hired from Seattle Washington, rather than a local company to keep the information from getting out locally.”
The second main concern is the main entrance to the park, the shark/reef life tank building. The structure is an an enclosure which “is steel reinforced concrete, the structure is over 50 years old, the steel is completely corroded due to constant contact with salt water… The tank holds 500,000 gallons of water X 8 lbs = 4 million pounds of pressure being exerted to the sides of the building supports.” The alleged inspection also reported the ceiling is coming down in “large chunks… Large pieces of concrete as large as an estimated 1/2 ton or more are falling out of the ceiling. The building shear points are all cracked, and crumbling.”
This poses a serious safety concern to not only visitors, but employees. “There are about 20 places where the ceiling has come down, they have not been repaired yet, so they can still be seen by the public since it is directly above their heads, the building is coming down. The company plans to patch the holes in the ceiling, not tell anyone, but this is a band-aid approach to a mortal wound. This can only end badly, for the animals as well as those trapped when the building does collapse, either partially, or completely.”
The third building of concern is the retail building which was reportedly in use at the time of the inspection despite having been previously condemned. “This building is said to be on the schedule to be replaced in 2 years, but that was said 5 years ago. At this point it is still in use despite the condemnation order.” A recent observation at the park found that the building has since been closed to the public.
Upon receiving this information in July, our partners contacted Hawaii’s Department of Land And Natural Resources Land Division and photographed the park a few days later. The department said they would look into it, but no further response was given, nor apparent action, despite the seriousness of the leak.
Photographs of Sea Life Park confirmed structural damage and the liability exposures. A Animal Plant And Health Inspection Service (APHIS) inspection report (link below) from 2015 further supported claims, mentioning numerous concerns that matched the leak.
Shortly after inquiries were made, Sea Life Park quickly closed their Gift Shop and Hawaii Ocean Theater. No reported penalties to the park were given. The Shark/Reef Life Tank remains open to the public.
PDF: APHIS Inspection Reports 2010-2017
We urge members of the public to contact Barry Cheung of DLNR Land Division and ask for a building inspection to be done….
Related: The Deaths Of Sea Life Park Hawaii
UPDATE Oct 28, 2018: Roughly $30 million in improvements planned for Sea Life Park