Impact of the 11 March 2011, Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami on the chemical industry


The Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami damaged or destroyed many industrial facilities housing or processing hazardous substances, such as refineries, petrochemical facilities and other types of chemical industry. This showed that also generally well prepared countries are at risk of suffering natural hazard triggered technological (Natech) accidents. An analysis of data collected from open sources and through interviews with authorities was performed to understand the main reasons for the industrial damage and downtime as well as the extent of hazardous-materials releases and the associated impact on society. The analysis of the data set confirmed the findings from other studies with respect to main damage and failure modes, as well as hazardous-materials release paths. In addition, gaps in Natech risk management were identified. Based on the data analysis and interviews lessons learned in support of a more far-reaching Natech risk management are presented.

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    Numbers in US$ were calculated based on the average 2011 Yen → US$ yearly exchange rate.


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The authors would like to acknowledge the invaluable help of Prof. Hirokazu Tatano, Prof. Yoshio Kajitani and Naho Ikeda as well as many others at the Disaster Prevention Research Institute of Kyoto University in helping us prepare the field visits to the affected areas and guiding us in the interviews.

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Correspondence to Elisabeth Krausmann.

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Krausmann, E., Cruz, A.M. Impact of the 11 March 2011, Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami on the chemical industry. Nat Hazards 67, 811–828 (2013).

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  • Industrial safety
  • Natech
  • Earthquake
  • Tsunami
  • Fire
  • Hazardous material