Contribution to the Systemic Modeling of Technical and Organizational Resilience of a Territory to Natech Risk: from microscopic to macroscopic

Chemical accidents triggered by natural hazards (known as Natechs) are relatively rare. In fact they represent between 2 – 7 % of all chemical accidents reported in databases such as ARIA, MARS, FACTS, MHIDAS, NRC (Sengul et al., 2012; Rasmussen, 1995). Nonetheless, several studies indicate that Natech accidents are (Stacy Young et al., 2004; Sengul et al. 2012). Growing urban populations and industrialization in areas subject to natural hazards, coupled with environmental change due to climate change and other factors will contribute to an increase in the number of Natech accidents in the years to come (Ana Maria Cruz et al., 2004).

The impact of Natech accidents can be severe or even catastrophic. The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of 11 March, 2011 in Japan serve as an example having caused the worst nuclear accident the history of Japan as well as significant impacts to the chemical industry. The Tohoku disaster provides a unique opportunity to study the effectiveness of industrial risk management planning, contingency planning, and emergency response practices at industrial facilities and government agencies in affected areas in responding to and coping with these events.

Thus, the main goal of this research project is to produce relevant knowledge and effective methods and tools to improve the resilience of a territory against Natech accidents especially those due to flood / tsunami. This project will study these aspects by considering two levels of analysis: the scale of the industrial site called microscopic scale, and the scale of the territory or society called macroscopic scale. With regard to these two scales, one of the objectives of this project is to better understand the physical and organizational vulnerability of industry exposed to natural hazards (particularly tsunami and flood risk), to identify gaps in industrial risk management and emergency response practices both by industry and government authorities, to make recommendations on prevention measures and appropriate safeguards for improved Natech risk management to ensure that plant owners/ operators as well as emergency organizations are able to cope with Natech events. To do this, the project will address some of the particular problems related to Natech risk management, in particular:

– Identification of the mechanisms, failure modes and causes of Natech accidents ;

– Analysis of the impact of such events on emergency management both at the micro and macroscopic scales ;

– Identification of the necessary conditions both technical and organizational for a return to « normal ».

The work proposed will be done based on case studies of past disasters, most notably, the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster and their impacts on industry and communities in Sendai, Kashima and Chiba, and on French industrial sites (in particular Presqu’île d’Ambes) which will lead to methodological developments and guides for improved Natech risk reduction. These will be developed and tested through and in collaboration with the partners of the project.

Partners : Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint-Etienne, Université de Bordeaux 1 – IUT/ département HSE, Université de Kyoto – Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Université de Kobe – Research Center for Urban Safety and Security, Secrétariat Permanent pour la Prévention des Pollutions et des risques Industriels de la Presqu’île d’Ambès.

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