Ebook: Risk Assessment as a Basis for the Forecast and Prevention of Catastrophies
Increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters during the last fifteen years in the Republic of Moldova, limited resources for prevention and mitigation of their impact, has increased the level of vulnerability of the population. Considered efforts are to be made to decrease vulnerability of population through a dipper study of human and societal dynamics, different methodologies of disaster forecast and prevention, transfer of technology and knowledge. In this publication theoretical knowledge and practical experiences in the area of natural and anthropogenic disasters are discussed. Practical recommendations are developed for the prevention of negative effects on the environment and society. It is demonstrated that international security policy is not limited just to regional security - it means ‘Global Security’ - and efficient international cooperation is needed to ensure it.
The increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters during the last 15 years in the Republic of Moldova, combined with limited resources for the prevention and mitigation of their impact, has increased the level of vulnerability of the population. Concerted efforts are to be made to decrease the vulnerability of the population through a deeper study of human and societal dynamics, different methodologies of disaster forecast and prevention and the transfer of technology and knowledge.
The first Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) within the framework of the NATO Programme Security Through Science took place in the Republic of Moldova and dealt with the topic: “Risk Assessment as a Basis for Elaboration of Recommendations for Forecast and Prevention of Catastrophes” (25–27 April 2007, Chisinau). This ARW was charged with the analysis of accumulated theoretical knowledge and practical experience in the field of disasters within Europe, thereby enabling the elaboration of practical recommendations. A total of 32 participants from 9 different European countries attended this meeting, which comprised social and sociological aspects, positive attitude of population to the events and territorial particularities. Accumulated experience in the participating countries (Germany, Netherlands, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia) in the field of combating catastrophes should be assessed and adapted to specific conditions in the Republic of Moldova. Over the course of 3 days, experiences with respect to overcoming natural and anthropogenic disasters were presented and discussed within the framework of presentations and work groups. During the workshop, theoretical knowledge and practical experiences in the area of natural and anthropogenic disasters were analysed and practical recommendations were developed for the prevention of negative effects on the environment and society. Seminars demonstrated that international security policy is not just limited to regional security, it means “Global Security” and efficient international cooperation is needed to ensure it.
The Agenda of ARW consisted of three main syndicates: Forecast prevention mitigation of natural disasters (studying of natural catastrophes such as extreme weather conditions, primary and secondary damage due to geophysical events, meteorological and anthropogenic influences as well as land-spreading or world-wide epidemic diseases.), Forecast and prevention of manmade disasters (studying human and technical failures such as the release of dangerous materials whether biological, chemical or radiological, explosion sequences due to human and technical failure inclusive revolution, accidents and those due to traffic and industrial accidents.), Disasters and Society (studying effects on society such as the protection of critical infrastructures against criminal actions, endangerment analyses and risk management systems, preventive measures, crisis communication and reduction of psychological impact by media).
The scientific content of the presentations and, consecutively, of the papers focused on: risk assessment as part of national policies regarding the protection of man and environment, necessity of good cooperation at international and national level, presentation of essential modalities to secure financial support and capacity resources, information sharing networking and vulnerability as a moderating factor in risk assessment.
The great importance of this event was evidenced by the participation of the ministers:
1. Dr. Constantin Mihailescu, Minister for the Environment of the Republic of Moldova;
2. Semion Carp, Colonel of Police, Representative Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Moldova.
3. Dr. Emil Druc, Multilateral Coordination Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova took part in the event.
From the diplomatic corps:
4. Mrs. Monica Sitaru, First Secretary of the Embassy of Romania NATO-Contact-Point of the Republic of Moldova and
5. Mr. Michael Pleban, German Embassy in the Republic of Moldova.
In addition, Dipl.-Ing. Gerhard Winkelmann-Oei, Chairman of the UNECE Joint ad hoc Expert Group, Federal Environmental Agency, Germany, participated as the UNECE representative.
The organisers consider that the Advanced Research Workshop was a complete success and the intention is to extend and continue with other themes for workshops.
Methodology for earthquake loss assessment has been developed in order to control and reduce the seismic risk. The application evaluates damage to built facilities and casualties from scenario (or historical) earthquakes. The probability of damage suffered by the structures for a given level of seismic hazard is evaluated using response spectra or macroseismic intensity.
The seismo-tectonics of the Vrancea source is described by the collision of 3 tectonic plates: Moesian, East-European and Intra-Alpine. Analysis of the seismic records of earthquakes originating in the Vrancea zone allows for assessment of seismic hazard from the intermediate-depth source influencing the south eastern region of Europe. An important component of such analysis is the database of focal mechanisms for both crustal and sub-crustal events. The polarity data of P- first motion for the period 1967–2006 were used to compile the new catalogue, which is compared to the existing ones. The stochastic method for computing the total spectrum of the seismic motion at the site is discussed in the context of the studied area. Recurrence intervals for the sub-crustal seismicity and attenuation functions of the peak values of ground motion are presented. Importance of 2D and 3D models for the assessment of site-effects is emphasised and the numerical example for the data from the city of Kishinev is provided.
At 22:41 local time, on Tuesday, April 25, 2002, a moderate earthquake with magnitude M = 4.6 took place in the Tbilisi area. This was the strongest instrumentally recorded seismic event ever in this region, causing 7 deaths, making 2446 people homeless and causing 180 million US$ worth of damage. The Tbilisi earthquake was a strike-slip earthquake that took place on the NW-SE Tbilsi-Mtkvari fault that dips to the northeast. The focal mechanism and shape of the isoseismals confirm this. A year before the Tbilisi earthquake of 2002 a seismic risk was evaluated for the town. In particular, the distribution of social-economic damage in the territory of the town in case of single earthquakes with intensities 7 and 8, i.e. so called “scenario” earthquakes, was determined. Obtained schematic map of the direct economic loss on the territory of the town gives the distribution of the relative seismic risk in the territory of the town and shows well the most vulnerable parts of the town in case of an earthquake with intensity 7. Calculated for them, potential direct economic loss is of the same order as that received by risk calculations according to official data after the Tbilisi earthquake of 2002 (April 25). For comparison, according to calculations in case of an earthquake with intensity 8 direct economic loss from destruction and damage of buildings only could exceed milliard dollars in the territory of Tbilisi. At 11:44 local time, February 20, 1920, a strong earthquake with magnitude Ms = 6.2 took place in the Gori area. The seismic intensity of this earthquake was estimated as IIX on the MSK scale in Gori. Half of the thousand apartment houses in the town were ruined and others were damaged. This event caused 114 deaths in the Gori area, half of them in the town of Gori. Perspective development of Gori requires the estimation of seismic risk for this territory. Existing data makes it possible to estimate the levels of economic loss caused directly by damaged and ruined buildings that in turn would be generated by earthquakes of various intensities. Particularly, the seismic risk for Gori has been estimated for scenario earthquakes with intensity 7, 8 and 9. Estimated value of losses for earthquakes with intensity 7. 8 and 9 are 60, 170 and 300 million US dollars respectively. The direct economic loss to Gori, caused by the Qartli earthquake of 1920, is estimated (at current prices) at 30 million US dollars. The maps of seismic risk for Gori give a visual demonstration of the most damaged areas. Hence, it is of great importance to establish a system of preventive practical measures which will make it possible to decrease the destructive effect of earthquakes in Tbilisi and Gori. Results of distribution of quantitative values of potential detriment to the cities' territories, which are received on the basis of seismic risk assessment, create necessary prerequisites for solving this problem.
The study of site effects and the microzonation of a part of metropolitan Sofia, based on the modelling of seismic ground motion along three cross sections are performed. Realistic synthetic strong motion waveforms are computed for scenario earthquakes (M = 7) applying a hybrid modelling method, based on the modal summation technique and finite differences scheme. The synthesised ground motion time histories are source and site specific. The site amplification is determined in terms of response spectra ratio (RSR). A suite of time histories and quantities of earthquake engineering interest are provided. The results of this study constitute a database that describes the ground shaking of the urban area. Using this database, the problem of estimation of seismic wave's behaviour for the Sofia region is discussed. We employed synthetic velocigrams to extract maximum particle velocities distribution has to calculate horizontal strain factor Log10ε distribution, using simplified relation between particle velocity and velocity of shear waves in the surface layer. It is shown that it is possible to estimate liquefaction susceptibility in terms of standard penetration values and initial overburden stress. The results can be used for microzonation purposes as well for determination main parameters of structural control devices in the Sofia region.
In general analyses of earthquakes often only the vulnerability of surface installations is considered, without subsurface installations. But in the last decades, insurance assessments of losses due to earthquake catastrophes showed the need for a more detailed assessment of vulnerability to earthquakes. Therefore it is also necessary to precisely understand the exposure of subsurface installations. Research results identified the possibility of a categorisation and classification of damage to surface and subsurface installations of mines related to tectonic earthquakes. Collapses have the biggest impact for underground structures, whereas the surface installations suffer from damage to buildings and their contents. An interesting feature is the link between surface and subsurface damage scenarios. This leads to extensive economic loss, which could influence a whole region. The transposition of the loss scenarios to the German Mining industry indicated only a minor vulnerability. This is due to lower earthquake intensities.
The purpose of this research is the estimation and forecasting of the level of environmental contamination for the elaboration of a local system of geoecological environment monitoring in an area influenced by the storage of radioactive waste products. As result, the main foundations for the ecological safety of the environment and inhabitants in an area influenced by tailing deposits of radioactive waste from the uranium-mining industry and the uranium-concentrating industry have been formulated.
Ecologically at-risk features are those where the occurrence of failures can result in significant, and sometimes catastrophic, chemical environmental contamination. Often these failures can also have human victims such as company personnel and inhabitants of nearby settlements, as was the case, for example, with the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine. It is well known that the economy of the Ukraine is based on mineral extraction and heavy industries, such as metallurgical, chemical, heat, power, and heavy mechanical engineering. These industries are the most dangerous to the environment and also those which have a negative influence on all environmental components: atmosphere, water resources, lakes, soil, flora and fauna. At these companies millions of tons of waste with danger classes I–IV are collected in special sediment containers, stores, and storage areas where volumes frequently amount to hundreds, thousands or millions of cubic meters. The height of the protecting dams for many storage areas or repositories of waste from the mining and processing of iron ore reach a hundred meters.
In making effective decisions on fire-fighting actions on major fires, such as the choice of appropriate extinguishing agents, detailed knowledge about possible risks to people, buildings and the environment are essential. Thus, advance information about the potential emissions of various pollutants that are generated as a result of these actions, is particularly important. This is because the overall emissions can depend on various combustion processes and on the tactics adopted in fighting the fire.
The evaluation of the environmental risks requires data on both the nature and amount of potentially harmful emissions and the pathways followed by those emissions. Thus, to achieve effective preventative actions, both in temporal and practical terms, information on the following factors is essential:
• materials being combusted;
• combustion conditions;
• pathways of emitted pollutants; and
• site factors.
Recent research at the University of Münster has highlighted the importance of pollution effects with respect to vulnerable soils, surface water and groundwater regimes. Information on topography, drainage and hydrogeological parameters can be noted on a digitised map (the so-called Environmental Protection Map) and can then be assessed from a fire engineering point of view. This map would, therefore, give the fire service an additional powerful design tool for helping minimising possible secondary damage to the relevant soil and water bodies.
On December 11, 2005 several explosions took place in Buncefield Oil Storage Depot. It was the largest fire that Europe has seen in over 60 years. No concluding reports regarding the negative impact on the environment (especially on the ground water, caused by the intense fire-fighting measures and the air pollution, caused by the smoke) have yet been provided. The investigations of the accident are being performed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in collaboration with the Environment Agency. The supervision committee for the investigations is the Major Incident Investigation Board (MIIB), consisting of independent experts, as well as HSE and EA employees. The MIIB has so far published three Progress Reports and one interim report.
The investigations were performed on sites contaminated with explosives and their related metabolites. My presentation consists of the following chapters. Firstly, I give some information about the Situation in Germany as regards explosive contaminated sites. Further, I describe the processing phases for the site investigation, in brief and then examining some examples of processes for historic inquiry, orientation and detailed investigation and a remedial investigation. The last mentioned was funded as a project by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research – Investigation on Remediation of Explosive Contaminated soil, including the testing of large scale remediation methods. Finally I give some information in brief about a project where natural attenuation processes in explosive contaminated sites were investigated, and some results in the summary. Before starting my presentation, I give a brief description of our firm's credentials in the field.
On 1st November 1986 a stockroom of the chemical company SANDOZ near Basle (Switzerland) burned down; it contained 1,200 tons of pesticides, solvents and other toxic chemicals. 10,000–20,000 m3 water for fire fighting contaminated with approximately 30 tons of pesticides and 200kg of mercury flowed into the river Rhine. Unknown amounts of persistent organic pollutants infiltrated the groundwater. Three days later SANDOZ informed the drinking water companies along the River Rhine about the toxic flood. Approximately 150,000 eels died in the Upper Rhine. This also meant the extinction of all species in the water, as it was later reported by a speaker of the German Ministry of the Environment. On 5th November the pollution of the river had spread about 400 kilometres. Waterworks in the Middle and Lower Rhine began to close their water intakes. The President of SANDOZ announced intensified controls for chemical stockrooms. The German chemical industry worried about the tightening of environmental laws as a result of the SANDOZ catastrophe. About 25,000 inhabitants of a village in the Middle Rhine area were supplied with drinking water by tanker lorries after the closure of the (bank filtrate) fountains. On 8th November in Basle up to 1,000 people took part in a demonstration against the “Arrogance of Power”. On 18th November SANDOZ reported for the first time that the stock room also contained 1.9 tons of the highly toxic insecticide ENDOSULFAN.
The removal of the contaminated sludge started and the sludge was brought to a dumping site. Special “vacuum sludge cleaners” were used to prevent the highly contaminated sludge being dispersed during the next flood. It took eight months until they could find mussels, small cancers and insect larvae within the polluted stretch of the River Rhine. In the following years the colonisation by means of tributaries was completed and the situation of fauna and flora of the river has been normalised.
Lasting results of the SANDOZ disaster: improvement of international agreements and collaboration like ICPR (Improvement of Alarm System), River Rhine Action Programme and the programme “Salmon 2000”. Furthermore, technological requests emerged for enterprises like appropriate retention tanks for water for fire fighting and for cases of malfunctions.
Hazard prevention and emergency planning in the UNECE region are focused on the following key elements:
1. Identification and notification of accidental risk sites (ARS)
2. Guidelines for safety measures minimizing the risk potential
3. Emergency preparedness in the case of an accident and mutual assistance.
Preventive measures are the best disaster control. For this reason the principal aim of the project “Technology Transfer for Plant-related Water Protection in Moldavia, Romania and the Ukraine” was the development of a simple and clearly structured method for water analysis, with regard to the safety of ground and surface water, which is adaptable to the economic and technological capabilities in the participating countries. Based on international recommendations, e.g. the Joint River Bodies, we elaborated the so called Checklist Method.
The possibility of using fibre production wastes as polymeric compositional materials (PCM) was studied with the purpose of minimising ecological risks through the rational utilisation of production wastes and the reduction of biologically irresolvable materials in the environment. The articles of PCM were tested and used in the friction units of metallurgical, chemical and mining equipment in the construction of the machines. These articles can be used instead of ferrous or non-ferrous metals and textolite. The use of PCM as a bearing shell for spindle support in pilger mills, hemispheres of half-couplings pilger mills, cartridges, rollers of piercing mills, seats of pipe-cutting machines, friction-bearings in the rollers of rollerbeds in ovens, conveyor rollers of etching sections in tin-zinc production, in the production of ammonia saltpetre in oven rollers of electric-insulation aggregate, supports of blocks of de-fatting units in tower ovens, cleaning blocks in foundries, rotor plates in rotation compressors, cartridges of rollers in mining conveyor belts, in pumps of acid transition, sweet water and sea water, press-on bushes and guide bushes, hydroplungers of water-pumps increased the service life of these units by 3–6 times.
The flooding of the river Bistrita in the Moldavia region of Romania, resulted in an ecological catastrophe. One effect was to accumulate different waste products from all the villages in the area of the river – especially poliethylentereftalat (P.E.T.) bottles - and to deposit them in the Bicaz Lake. Now some parts of Bicaz Lake are partially covered with millions of PET bottles. Our Consortium was already involved in some ecologizations but our operations in this area have had to be extended due to the macrodimension of this damage.
This paper presents a study made of two villages in the Bucovine region, Bilca and Vicov, regarding gas emissions – a man made disaster – their reduction, and the possibility of recovering wood waste in order to use it as resource. We present an assessment of the recoverable quantity and a rate of the calorific power calculation. In the last chapter, we present a couple of ideas for steam and hot water boilers, using combustible wood waste as fuel, and the most important direction for use of this energy in the manufacturing of wood products (like dryers, heat exchangers).
This paper presents a study focused on the process of water contamination as a consequence of human activities at the limit of man made disaster, concerning pollutant diversification as a result of the development of manufacturing processes. The investigations were focused on the evaluation of the pollution level as well as the self-purification (eutrophication) capacity of the Bahlui river waters in Iaşi, Romania, by means of quantitative assessment of certain ecophysiological groups of bacteria involved in organic residue recycling, also by determining of sanitary-bacteriological attributes describing the quality of water.
We take a look at the causes and effects of both natural and man made disasters in recent times in the Moldova region of Romania. In this document we hope to highlight the lessons which can be learned to help avoid future disasters, both natural and of a man made nature.
Risk calculation as a function of probability and magnitude of consequences is an important step in technological risk management. Taking into account the importance of the local communities' role in Emergency Response Plans, it appears that vulnerability should be an important new factor in the technological risk formula. The paper presents a case study for the improvement of technological risk calculation taking vulnerability into account.
For more than half a century we have been witnessing a globalisation process not only in the economy, but also in ecology. The disappearance of frontiers in relation to the effects of human activities on the environment and the use of the common resources of the planet: air, oceans etc., make international environmental negotiations very important. The increasing intensity and frequency of the consequences of climate change have led to a higher awareness and commitment to reduce them in many countries, including Romania. On July 2007, the meteorological red code warning was enforced for the first time in Romania, in the south of the country. The unusually high temperature registered for a long period of time throughout the country and the prolonged drought of 2007 are two of the most recent effects of global warming visible in Romania. Negotiations focused on reducing the consequences of the extremely hot weather and drought had as a first result the Government's approval for the National Strategy and the Action Programme for Conception of Anti-Drought Strategy in the Short and Medium Term.
The objective of the geophysical investigation method was the determination of the presence of a concrete covering over an insecticide burial place, the thickness of the cover, and depth of the landslide body. Results of measurements by magnetic survey (MS), electrical sounding (ES), and electrical profiling (mapping) showed an absence of concrete cover but a subsoil layer of loam and clay 2.8–3.0 m thick. The formation of fissures in the cover has helped rainfall to penetrate into the pesticides, turning them into paste and liquid forms. The depth of the burial place changes from 7.8 m to 10.4 m and the base is in the upper layer of landslide cover). The second and older active landslide layer is at a depth of 13–18 m. An unexpected fracture in the burial place, which is on an active landslide, could cause an ecological disaster which could endanger the populations of the Shoraxbyur, Vardashen, and Erebuny suburbs of Yerevan, capital of Armenia.
Estimation of natural and man-made processes which have occurred in the territory of Armenia are presented, as well as planning measures for risk reduction in the case of emergencies in the structure of ARS of the Ministry of Territorial Administration of RA.
The high degree of development of the territory of the Republic of Moldova and the limited availability of lands favourable for agriculture stipulate the necessity of introducing potentially unstable slopes, exhausted quarries and wetlands into extensive agricultural and building use. However, this is often hindered by a wide spread of exogenous processes significantly complicating normal land use. Such processes result in human-caused damage as well as decreasing the crop capacity of agricultural lands with negative consequences for the national economy.