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Why did the largest aquarium in Europe burst and threaten similar objects in Russia?

Date: June 10, 2023 Time: 12:43:50

Aquarium explosion floods Radisson Blu hotel


This is a story about the fact that sooner or later the Tower of Babel will always collapse and the Titanic will sink. The AquaDom, the largest cylindrical aquarium in the world, was the pride of the American company Reynolds Polymer Technology, specializing in acrylic glass, and its subsidiary ICM, which builds structures with acrylic panels.

“The cylinder of this aquarium will not explode even in the event of a terrorist attack. At best, you can make a small hole, but even then nothing terrible will happen. Only a little water will come out.” Today, the words of the architect Michael Jessing, spoken twenty years ago, are quoted by all the German media. Jessing argued that a Hollywood script was completely impossible here.

But I was wrong.

The largest cylindrical aquarium was installed in 2002. The 16-meter structure with a million liters of salt water and fifteen hundred wacky fish has become the main attraction of the Radisson Blu hotel. There was even an elevator inside the aquarium, and it makes two years AquaDom underwent a deep German refurbishment at a cost of almost three million euros. Neat craftsmen put the elevator in order and replaced the silicone seals… After covid, the aquarium reopened only in June this year. But on December 16, everything turned out according to the Hollywood scenario.

Early in the morning, at a quarter to six, the hotel residents heard a loud crash and felt movement under their feet. The collapse of the giant cylinder happened very quickly. The shock wave knocked out doors and windows. The furniture was thrown into the street. A million tons of water with dying fish spilled onto Karl Liebknecht Strasse.

Because everything happened at dawn, there were no fatalities (only two people were slightly injured). However, one and a half thousand inhabitants of the aquarium died. The rescuers managed to get only about thirty fish that lived in overexposure in the basement of the hotel.

Now, at the Radisson Blue, the basement floor is two inches flooded, the atrium a ruin. According to experts, the collapse of the building does not threaten. However, the residents of the hotel have been evacuated and soon it will not be able to function in the same way.

“AquaDom” – the largest cylindrical aquarium in the world,


“I’m tired, I’m leaving”

Representatives of the American company arrived at the scene for an examination. However, preliminary reasons have already been announced. It didn’t take… nothing to destroy the world’s largest aquarium. It collapsed on its own.

“The first signs point to material fatigue,” said Berlin’s Interior Senator Iris Spranger yesterday.

According to experts, a combination of reasons must be added to the official version, such as a combination of low temperatures, technical defects and design weaknesses.

The fatigue of a material is its destruction under the influence of mechanical damage and the accumulation of cracks. The classic example of this phenomenon is the molasses flooding Boston: an incident that occurred a hundred years ago at a brewery. Due to fatigue, a huge barrel with a mass containing sugar burst, as a result of which more than nine thousand tons of molasses were transferred to the square. The molasses destroyed buildings, overturned a locomotive, and several dozen people drowned in it. The aftermath of the incident is still felt on hot days, when the smell of caramel can be felt in the air in Boston Square.

Three caveats about acrylic panels

Before the incident in Germany, there were only three known cases of acrylic panel leaks.

The first leak occurred in 2010 in the Dubai Mall, where an aquarium with ten million tons of water is located. Commercial floors quickly filled with water, visitors had to be evacuated. However, the aquatic inhabitants were not affected, and after the repair, the aquarium was reopened. Then the ICM experts attributed this not to the acrylic panels, but to the structure of the building: a beam under the glass sagged and tore it along a vertical seam.

The second case, which occurred in 2012 in Shanghai, was sadder. Then, for no apparent reason, the glass of the aquarium in the big shopping mall in Dongfang burst. Suddenly there was a crash, shards of thick glass flew into the audience, water gushed out with the inhabitants of the aquarium. 15 people were injured (according to some sources – 56), seven sharks died, many marine fish and turtles died. The aquarium was relatively small – only 34,000 liters, which is three hundred times smaller than the one in Dubai. Then no conclusions were drawn, dismissing the incident about the poor quality of the Chinese panels.

We are in the third case. In April 2019, glass was broken in the Oceania shopping center in Moscow.

This 24-meter aquarium, opened in 2016, was the highest in the world. It contained a million liters of salt water, had two acrylic cylinders, between which an elevator traveled. Designed by the same American company, it was similar to the German one, and even the incident with the broken glass also occurred shortly after the repair.

Sudden shock, water spilled out of the aquarium. Fortunately, it did not collapse. According to some reports, the crack went through the sticky seam of the cylinder. However, the exact cause of the event has not yet been announced. Now the miracle of engineering in the shopping center “Oceania” does not work.

Looking at the events that took place in Germany, the thought “and thank God” involuntarily arises.

Evacuated guests from the Berlin hotel


Is the Aviapark cylindrical aquarium safe?

Currently, in Moscow, in the Aviapark shopping center, there is a cylindrical aquarium, which was produced and installed by the same ICM company. The 23-meter cylinder appeared in 2014 and became the first such object in Russia and the highest in the world (before the appearance of the aquarium in Oceania).

It was three times inferior to the German “AquaDom” in terms of the volume of water, but due to the fact that it was higher and had a smaller base area, the water pressure at the bottom turned out to be almost one and a half times higher. than the German!

It was this project that the Americans considered their most difficult job and the monumental success of ICM.

– This project stands out from our other projects. The client gave us the most difficult task, and its implementation showed what we are capable of, rejoiced Nathan Reynolds, vice president of production at ICM.

The aquarium is still open today. However, it cannot be said that there was no problem. From time to time, visitors to the mall have to look at leaks, as well as an entertaining picture of how divers seal the aquarium from the inside with sealant.

However, in the Aviapark press service, what they saw is called non-dangerous phenomena. For example, in July 2019, when visitors again noticed a water leak, it was reported that it was not a leak, but rather a planned annual replacement of the gaskets in the rings surrounding the aquarium.

The possibility of repeating the scenario of the German “Hollywood” in Aviapark is denied. According to the press service, a special design will save the aquarium from an emergency: seven metal rings that surround the cylinder and contain changes in pressure and temperature.

Berlin Radisson Blu Hotel


Will the seven rings protect us?

Seven protective rings, which were not on the German “AquaDom” – this is absolutely our knowledge. At one point, the national company Mosbioengineering took the initiative to install them. The company lost the bid to the Americans, however, despite this, they insisted that metal rings be introduced into the design. In addition, it was Russian engineers who calculated and provided the Americans with data on construction loads, the power of engineering communications, and the thickness of acrylic panels.

However, it is worth noting that the rings were also used in the design of the aquarium in Oceania. They did not save the aquarium from leaks (although they may have prevented a more unfortunate turn of events).

By the way, in the spring of this year, the American company ICM, which provides continuous operation and maintenance of the aquarium in Aviapark, ceased its functions. Now all functions for the maintenance of the object are performed by the domestic company “Aqua Logo”.

Are acrylic panels dangerous?

The official investigation in Germany has not yet been concluded, but it is already clear that acrylic panels are not as safe as they were placed by the manufacturer Reynold and its subsidiary ICM. If twenty years ago it was believed that acrylic glass is practically invulnerable, even if it is blown up, even shot, the operation has shown that this is not the case, and even more so – fragments of a burst aquarium are dangerous for people (previously this option was not considered at all).

After the Shanghai incident, there were suggestions that the reason for the “explosion” of the acrylic panel could be long-term (more than two years) exposure to ultraviolet radiation, temperature changes, as well as the composition of acrylic, which could contain bubbles. . This, in particular, was written in the American aquarium magazine “Advanced Aquarist” (“Advanced Aquarist”).

However, this did not hurt the global authority of the American panels, since everything was blamed on shoddy Chinese production.

In the current situation, you will have to disentangle yourself. The glass was produced by a reputable American company that monopolized the market and worked hard to make aquariums in shopping malls and hotels fashionable.

A diver could work inside a huge aquarium.


who got tense

– The explosion of the giant aquarium “AquaDom” alerted the managers of super-technical aquariums, – writes the Moroccan press.

Moroccans have a lot to worry about. His “AquaDream” was built in 2012 according to the project of the German “AquaDom”, and the conditions in Morocco are worse than in Germany: the creators had to take into account the possibility of earthquakes.

The Americans, of course, again said that everything was very reliable, but who would believe them now.

Lithuania has questions. His “Baltic Mall Aquarium” in Kaunas is the work of the same American company. Although the Lithuanian aquarium is not so big – only 163,000 liters, but it was built in 2005, that is, it is only three years younger than the German one. Who will guarantee that acrylic has not “tired” over the years?

According to reviews, another brainchild of the company – a panoramic aquarium at the Turkish hotel Mardan Palace – is in poor condition. The owners do not have enough money to maintain it.

Well, the news that the company has built the largest cylindrical aquarium in Chongqing, China is perceived not as an engineering triumph, but as the creation of a potential new hazard.

Whether the Americans will be able to restore the reputation and trust in their panels remains to be seen.

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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