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(General News)
9. Is there a risk of tsunami-nuclear accident domino effect in the Mediterranean?

Comparing the maps showing general tsunami hazard and nuclear hazard for the European countries produced by the European Spatial Planning Observation Network (ESPON) we may conclude that the risk of a domino effect tsunami-nuclear accident is very low in the Mediterranean.

As no nuclear power plant is installed in the PPRD South Partner Countries and as existing nuclear power plants in Italy were shut down more than 20 years ago, the only active nuclear power plant built on the Mediterranean coastline is located on the Spanish Catalonian coast which lies on a low tsunami hazard area.

The European Spatial Planning Observation Network (ESPON) 2006 worked from 2002 to 2006 to the preparation of studies on different topics related to spatial development and territorial policies. The ESPON project “Spatial effects and management of natural and technological hazards in general and in relation to climate change" focused on the characterization of hazards as well as on the definition of the risk profile for the EU territories in view to allow a better understanding and management of risks to facilitate targeted responses and policies.

The situation changes drastically if we consider a domino effect tsunami-chemical accident.

Thursday, 12 May 2011
(General News)
10. Is there a risk of tsunami-chemical accident domino effect in the Mediterranean?

The UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan indicates that more than 200 petrochemical and energy installations, chemical industries and chlorine plants stocking and handling dangerous substances are located along the Mediterranean coast.

Industrial facilities located in coastal areas subject to tsunami hazards may be at risk of tsunami impact and damage and, if they use hazardous materials, these can be accidentally released and dispersed into the environment.

According to the European Commission Joint Research Centre study “Assessment of Tsunami Risk to an Oil Refinery in southern Italy”, the oil refinery fires triggered by the 1964 Niigata earthquake and tsunami in Japan serve as an example of the potentially catastrophic effects of a tsunami when it affects a highly industrialized and urbanized area.

During this event, a 4 m tsunami was triggered by the 7.5 magnitude earthquake which initially caused fires in five storage tanks and oil spills in hundreds more at two oil refineries in Niigata. The tsunami hit the already earthquake stricken facility resulting in:

additional damage to storage tanks and plant processing equipment by collision with tsunami-driven objects and by the hydrodynamic forces of the tsunami, the spread of leaked oil by the tsunami current into the harbor and on inundated land, the spread of burning crude oil carried by the flood waters causing the fires to extend to other parts of the plant, the spread of ignited crude oil carried by the flood waters into residential areas and the destruction of 286 houses by the fire.

The European Spatial Planning Observation Network (ESPON) 2006 project produced maps of the European Mediterranean coast showing major accident hazard involving harmful substances and oil as technological hazard for the European countries. Comparing these maps with the ESPON general tsunami hazard map we can see how many European Mediterranean coastal areas are exposed to both tsunami and chemical hazards.




Thursday, 12 May 2011
(General News)
11. Potential consequences of tsunami on an industrial plant processing hazardous materials

Limiting industrial development along tsunami-prone coasts in the Mediterranean is very difficult to impose –highlights a European Commission Joint Research Centre report on the Potential consequences of tsunami impact on an industrial facility on the north eastern coast of Sicily - as many hazardous areas in the Mediterranean are already heavily industrialized and it may be decided to accept certain risks from infrequently occurring hazards as long as they do not outweigh the benefits derived from an industrial activity.

The publication which was produced under the EU –funded Tsunami Risk and Strategies for the European Region (TRANSFER) analyzed two credible tsunami scenarios - an earthquake along the Capo Vaticano fault in Calabria, source of an earthquake and tsunami on 8 September 1905 which devastated many towns and villages and resulted in more than 500 victims, and a land-slide at Stromboli. The study assesses the potential damage to an oil refinery and the hazardous-materials releases resulting from the tsunami impacts.

Although the conclusions indicate that in the two considered scenarios, the consequences of potential hazardous materials releases, fires or explosions triggered by the tsunamis are likely to be small, the document make recommendations for preventive and preparedness measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of tsunami-triggered chemical accidents and to mitigate their consequences if they do occur.

Land-use planning is the obvious way to avoid the impact of a tsunami, and limiting industrial development along tsunami-prone coasts minimises the hazard associated with the inundation – the research says. Land-use restrictions are, however, difficult to impose to already industrialized areas. In most cases supplementary measures are required to protect hazardous facilities. This means that static and hydrodynamic wave action on structures needs to be considered during the design and operation of an industrial plant and tsunami protection measures such as offshore breakwalls or onshore barriers are to be installed to reducing the tsunami force. These barriers could also prevent collision of debris with tanks or equipment containing hazardous materials and avoid the releases of toxic, flammable or explosive substances.

Thursday, 12 May 2011
(General News)
12. The provision of the Seveso II Directive for preventing domino effects tsunami-chemical hazard

Although at the EU level there are several legal acts that address the risk of natural hazards triggering technological disasters (natech risk) through rules governing industrial establishments housing hazardous materials, there is no specific legislation or any type of guidelines that encompasses the entire natech disaster risk assessment and management – says the report “State of the Art in Natural Hazard Triggering a Technological Disaster (NATECH) Risk Management prepared by the European Commission Joint Research Centre and the UNISDR.

The report investigates on the interactions between natural disasters and simultaneous technological accidents, identifies main problems in natech risk management and emergency response and outlines a set of key strategies for natech risk reduction.

The key EU legal text governing prevention of chemical accidents is the Seveso II Directive (98/82/EC). Its aim is to: “Prevent major accidents which involve dangerous substances, and to limit their consequences for man and the environment with a view to ensuring high levels of protection throughout the Community in a consistent and effective manner.”

Under the Seveso II Directive industrial facilities that store, use or handle dangerous substances are required to set out a major-accident prevention policy, write and submit a safety report, and establish emergency plans in the case of an accidental chemical release.

Although the Seveso II Directive does not have any specific requirements for natech risk management, it calls for the analysis of external events - including natural hazards - for carrying out preventive measures to reduce the likelihood of an accident and to establish preparedness measures in case an accident occurs.

Also Article 8 of the Directive which calls for the analysis of potential domino effects of a major accident, and Article 12 which requires that prevention of chemical accidents and mitigation of their potential consequences be taken into account in land use policies, indirectly address natech risk management.

At the national level EU countries have specific regulations in place for chemical accident prevention and to protect citizens from the impacts of natural hazards. However, the JRC-UNISDR report indicates that risk management and emergency response measures in place for chemical accident prevention during day-to-day plant operation do not guarantee protection against natural disaster forces unless these are explicitly considered and prepared for.

The EU countries considered in the report (Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Sweden ) have systems in place for reporting chemical accidents, but not for natechs specifically. They have maps of natural hazards and may keep an inventory of hazardous installations, however none of them reported natech hazard maps.

Finally, all the countries indicated a growing awareness of the problems associated with natech disasters and natech risk reduction, with some countries taking initial steps to implement specific natech disaster prevention measures such as Italy, France and Portugal.
Thursday, 12 May 2011
(General News)
13. It is rare that just one cause leads to a chemical accident, usually there is a combination of factors - UNEP document says

To prevent chemical accidents, it is necessary to identify and understand the hazards associated with the chemical substances and their processes as well as the potential scenarios which may lead to an accident – indicates the recent UNEP Guidance Document “A Flexible Framework for Addressing Chemical Accident Prevention and Preparedness”. These scenarios include the effects of extreme weather conditions or seismic events - earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption.

The impact of extreme weather conditions or seismic events – the document says - on chemical installations can damage the plant construction or lead to a break down in the supply of energy or utilities. This may in turn lead to chemical accidents. Proposed prevention mechanisms include careful assessment of the siting of hazardous installations which should take account of local natural features (rivers which may flood, steep slopes prone to avalanche or mud slide, coastal plains exposed to tsunami risk). The construction of installations should also take account of the possible natural hazards and the expected weather conditions in the geographical region, including extremes. Provisions should be made for shutting down the installation in an emergency due to extreme natural conditions.

This Guidance document was developed by a group of international experts, under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (UNEP-DTIE), as part of its work pursuant to the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) adopted in February 2006.

The aim of SAICM is to “achieve by 2020, the use and production of chemicals in ways that lead to the minimisation of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment.” One of the identified work areas of SAICM is “formulation of prevention and response measures to mitigate the environmental and health impacts of emergencies involving chemicals.”
Thursday, 12 May 2011
Search and Rescue training course in the framework of the French-Lebanese cooperation

Following the 2006 Lebanon War which killed over 1,000 people in the country and severely damaged the national civil infrastructure, the Lebanese General Directorate of Civil Defense asked the support of the "Euro-Mediterranean Programme on Civil Protection", at the time in its second phase coordinated by France, for making a comprehensive needs assessment in view of better responding to wartime and peacetime emergencies.

Friday, 14 May 2010
(General News)
The long road to recovery: Community responses to industrial disaster

This book, published by the United Nations University (UNU) in 1996, examines community responses to types of industrial disasters that, going far beyond the routine, constitute "surprise" disasters. These disasters are producing unprecedented consequences, and they are emerging faster and lasting longer than ever before.This conclusion is the result of long-term case-studies of seven highly publicized industrial disasters that occurred between 1949 and 1989

Friday, 26 March 2010
(International Cooperation on Civil Protection)

Council Directive 96/82/EC of 9 December 1996, also known as the Seveso II Directive, is a European Union law aimed at the prevention and control of major-accident involving dangerous substances.

The "Seveso" accident happened in 1976 at a chemical plant in Seveso, Italy, manufacturing pesticides and herbicides. A dense vapour cloud containing tetrachlorodibenzoparadioxin (TCDD) was released from a reactor.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

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