, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 179-197
Date: 08 Feb 2008

A qualitative Natech damage scale for the impact of floods on selected industrial facilities

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Abstract

There is increasing evidence that natural disasters can trigger technological accidents and damage. These so-called Natech accidents can pose a significant risk to regions that are unprepared for responding to them. The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has recognised the risk associated with Natech events and has started systematic research into Natechs and their underlying dynamics. This work investigates the risk associated with the flooding of industrial installations through an analysis of past case histories and using expert judgement. The potential impact of three levels of flood severity on selected industrial facilities storing and/or processing (eco-)toxic, flammable or explosive materials is analysed qualitatively and a scale is developed that links the flood intensity to the level of potential damage. Our analysis indicates that natural disasters have the potential for triggering hazmat releases and other types of technological accidents. Hence, natural disasters should be considered as separate accident-triggering events in the planning, design and operating stages of industrial facilities that process or store hazardous substances. Our work revealed a lack of detailed information on the occurrence of Natech events which indicates not necessarily a scarcity of Natechs but rather a lack of standardised reporting and record keeping.