Ebook: Stimulus for Human and Societal Dynamics in the Prevention of Catastrophes
Disasters, both natural and man-made, not only present a major threat to national security, they can also significantly impede the stable development of national economies. Dealing with them safely and efficiently is dependent on a well structured policy in emergency preparedness, something which can also go some way towards mitigating the inevitable burden they represent in financial terms. In the Caucasian region alone, natural and man-made disasters are estimated to have cost hundreds of millions of US dollars in the period 2003 to 2010. This book presents 34 papers, arising from the NATO Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) held in Yerevan, Armenia, in October 2010. The aim of this ARW was to further supplement the common efforts of scientists from NATO and partner countries to transfer technology and knowledge with the objective of decreasing the vulnerability of the population from both natural and man-made disasters. The ARW’s aim was achieved, not least, by evaluating accumulated European theoretical knowledge and practical experience in the relevant fields so that recommendations could be developed for the prevention and mitigation of disasters. The book is divided into four main sections covering the themes of: public risk perception and communication, seismic risk assessment and consequent reduction, hazard monitoring and management, and assessment and management of industrial risks, and will be of interest to all those involved in the prevention and management of disasters, both natural and man-made.
The ARW “Stimulus for Human and Social Dynamics in the Prevention of Catastrophes” was convened on 5-8 October, 2010 in Yerevan, Armenia. The Republic of Armenia is one of most exposed countries to natural disasters not only in the Caucasian region, but also in the entire Euro-Asian continent. Strong earthquakes and landslides, floods and droughts, heavy rains and tornados, and many other natural disasters present a major threat to national security and an important impediment to the stable development of the national economy. Man-made disasters are also of great importance in Armenia. The presence of a Nuclear Power Plant, 30 large chemical facilities, 1,000 large hydrological dams, and fire hazards demand a well-structured policy in emergency preparedness, and it requires large resources from the national economic and social spheres. Damage caused by natural and, partially, man-made disasters during 2003-2010 in the Caucasian Region was estimated to have cost hundreds of millions of US Dollars.
Also, while some 20 legal and regulatory acts are in force in Armenia, the further development of the legal framework has to be supported. Thus the Workshop was aimed at further supplementing the common efforts of scientists from NATO and Partner countries to transfer technology and knowledge with the aim of decreasing the vulnerability of the population from both natural and man-made disasters.
As the Armenia–NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) has foreseen, ARWs try to unify the efforts of the scientific community in creating a greater understanding of the various threats to society, territories and the environment. Thus, this ARW had the task of further evaluating accumulated European theoretical knowledge and practical experience in the relevant fields of concern so that practical recommendations can be developed for the prevention and mitigation of disasters.
The huge interest in the Workshop, already mentioned, was particularly reflected in the large participation of relevant Armenian scientific and public administration institutions. Top management from the Armenian Rescue Service, the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the German and UK ambassadors to Armenia, took an active part in the ARW sessions. The event was actively publicized in most well-known press, TV and radio Armenian media.
The agenda consisted of about 25 presentations (from 10 countries) and discussions that addressed a wide range of disaster-management regimes. The principal themes focused (for a series of typical disaster scenarios) on how these disasters can affect both the human and natural environments. Accordingly, the presentations and syndicate discussions covered the following areas of concern: natural disasters such as earthquakes, landslides, and floods; man-made disasters such as accidents at mining and tailings dams; nuclear/radiological facilities and illicit trafficking of nuclear material attempts; and environmental contamination. The monitoring and assessment of health and environmental pollution risks, as well as the communication of these risks to the public, were also discussed.
The various themes addressed integrated techniques for predicting, measuring and assessing the various physical and environmental impacts, and their prevention and mitigation. The relevant essential key factors that must be involved to achieve such prevention and mitigation were also discussed.
The contributions reflected the extensive experience in the participating countries (namely, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Germany, Moldova, Netherlands, Romania, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and the Ukraine) in the field of combating man-made and natural disasters, as well as how their secondary impacts should be assessed and adapted to the specific conditions in Armenia. Thus the presentations were considered very useful, especially for those partner countries that are developing their legal frameworks in civil emergency planning, and particularly those who are aligning to EU directives and other international standards.
Participants proposed to continue the common efforts of their countries in scientific research and in the development of effective solutions for minimising the negative impacts of disasters on the social and environmental spheres. They also considered that the correlation between human factors and the prevention of catastrophes, with greater focus on industrial man-made disasters, could be one of the main topics for a future workshop.
The issues of vulnerable communities, and their perception of their exposure to natural hazards, are widely considered current interest topics. Vulnerability assessments focus on groups and social units and are shaped by a number of factors including risk perception, as it is common knowledge that adjustment basically depends on how people perceive risks for themselves. The purpose of this research was to better understand individual and group risk perceptions and the manner in which they can influence the social vulnerability of a community in the Băiuţ commune in Romania. The study was based on investigation methods specific to geography and social sciences, and the analysis was focused on finding the multiple pressures perceived by the local population, estimating the capacity of the community to cope with these pressures and the adaptation options which should be taken to ensure their sustainable development.
Principles are worked out for the organisation and implementation of the training of the population on the issues of protection from disasters (TPIPD). TPIPD should be indissoluble and continuous, and the existing educational system, governing bodies and mass-media should be considered as a basis for TPIPD. Educational-methodology, organisational, legal and other issues are discussed for the enhancement of the effectiveness of TPIPD, the system of which, and its activities, in the Republic of Armenia are analyzed.
Communications have an important role in preventing natural disasters. In the case of natural disasters, Romanian press institutions constitute an important, and many times efficient, element in the communication process between competent institutions and the population of the country. In recent years, Romanian television and radio stations allotted significant time to news, information magazines, and interviews which have subjects aimed at preventing disasters of floods and informing the population with regard to the measures which must be adopted.
During and after flood events the persons affected undertake various actions. The initial focus is on saving life and limb and also personal property. The following case study looks at the activities undertaken by a community initiative to explore the causes of flooding in the affected region, in addition to possibilities for prevention. This is a unique approach in Germany.
Chain-reaction communication is a way to teach a large number of people in a short time to interact in the case of landslips as zonal and regional disasters.
Along with rehabilitation of various industries, Armenia takes steps to reduce their adverse impact on environment and human health. For that purpose a series of national laws has been adopted and a number of international conventions ratified. In 1996 Armenia ratified UN ECC “Convention on Trans-boundary effects of Industrial Accidents” (1992, Helsinki), and Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Trans-boundary Context (Espoo, 1991). Besides, a number of legal documents and environmental conventions regulating issues related to public awareness-raising and public participation in decision making process have been adopted. The project was funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany and was aimed at implementation of the Helsinki Convention Provisions. The RA Ministry of Nature Protection was the project coordinator and JINJ Ltd. engineering-consulting company was responsible for the project implementation. The project duration was one year and was implemented at “Mego Gold” Ltd. under “Global Gold Mining” company (functioning in mining sector and mainly engaged in gold mines study and exploitation), considering the plant tailing pit as the main facility.
Under the project, training courses were carried out for the company staff, as well as for the active group of the affected zone community. Both the company specialists involved in the emergency staffing of the plant, and invited specialists (emergency management, environmental, public relations, local self-governance experts), conducted the courses. Meetings with the population of the affected community were organized and an information booklet was prepared and disseminated among them. The booklet contains information on the criteria characterizing emergencies and public actions during an emergency. The booklet represents a small guideline to explain what industrial emergencies are and what consequences they can have. The acquired theoretical knowledge was supplemented and strengthened through implementation of an open demonstrative training for the public.
No matter how different emergency situations, accidents and incidents are, they engender a common problem of organization and fulfilment of rapid response to avoid losses and mitigate possible consequences. Of primary importance is the unhampered functioning of the service in responding to alarm calls, the purposefulness and effectiveness of which is conditioned by the harmonic and functional efficiency of tasks carried out with equipment and infrastructure in the field.
Taking into consideration the above factors, and the year-by-year considerable increases in registered emergency situations, accidents and incidents and alarm calls, it is proposed to implement changes in the system of the management aimed at improving the response to alarm calls. The main issues in the establishment of the new crisis management centre, and “112” dispatcher service, form the basis for this project.
There is currently no faster growing, wider-exposure and information storage capacity platform than the Internet. Next to mobile telephones in terms of communication speed, the Internet stands out as a vital tool for handling data on past and future disasters. While it is up to researchers and research equipment to actually predict some emergency situations, the only way to efficiently avoid natural and, especially, man-made long-term disasters, is to disseminate knowledge about them in a manner that ensures reception and feed-back. The question is how the World Wide Web could play a key role in avoiding what could otherwise be unpredictable.
During recent years man-made and natural disasters have become frequent and more devastating in scale. A study of this problem is now more important particularly in terms of population evacuation, for the implementation of which, transport communication means are of significant importance. The problem is of special importance for Armenia since the whole country is situated in mountainous and sub-mountainous zones, and there are no alternative ways to cover new areas for construction of new roads.
As urbanization progresses worldwide, earthquakes pose serious risks to lives and properties for urban areas near major active land-based seismic sources. Earthquake early warning (EEW) can be a useful tool for reducing earthquake risks, if the spatial relationship between cities and earthquake sources is favourable for such warnings, and the citizens and decision-makers are properly trained to respond to earthquake warning messages.
Seismic warnings can be used to slow down high-speed trains, to shut down pipelines and gas lines to minimize fire hazards, to shut down manufacturing operations to decrease potential damage to equipment, or to save vital computer information to inhibit losses of data. The successful establishment and maintenance of EEWs consists of two key analyses: 1) rapid analysis of the strong ground motion records to be the alert for warning; and 2) analysis of the vulnerability of critical systems to define reasonable thresholds of switch off.
This paper is targeted on the earthquake engineering contribution to EEW design and implementation based on available strong motion data. An illustration is given on how the available strong motion data base, coupled with fast real-time estimation of the strong motion record, can be used for setting the trigger levels and activation of the EEW. The paper also deals with the use of the accumulated expert knowledge on the seismic instrumentation and monitoring of structural systems that provide information on the dynamic behaviour of the systems during earthquakes and which might be used as background for near real-time damage mapping during an earthquake. Such mapping is of a particular importance for Bulgaria with its heterogeneous built environment and high seismic hazard scale.
The paper presents some of the main scientific results achieved within the framework of a recently completed NATO Science for Peace and Security research project. The project aimed to harmonize the different seismic risk maps of Romania, Bulgaria, and the Republic of Moldova, and to develop standard maps in Eurocode 8 format, reflecting the real trans-boundary geophysical characteristics. In order to achieve these results, an important amount of research work in the field was carried out by the project teams of the three countries. The project also involved training of young scientists in the fields of seismic hazard, vulnerability and risk, organizing of seminars and workshops with international experts, and upgrading the national seismic networks with new digital equipments. The general coordination of project activities, and the evaluation of the project progress, were performed by a scientific team from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey.
The main goal was to combine the analysis of the contemporary elements of risk inventories, seismicity and vulnerability, so as to assess seismic hazards and risks for Tbilisi. The inventories of the built environment were studied and converted into a GIS with the following categories: base map; building material types; number of storeys; number of entrances; condition of buildings; construction period of buildings; photos of old buildings; critical facilities, such as electricity, water aqueducts and supply, and transportation systems; high loss facilities; aerial photos; and election precincts with population sizes. Two maps of seismic site conditions were derived. The first map was constrained from topographic data at a large scale (1:10,000) using a technique proposed by Trevor I. Allen and David J. The second map was created on the basis of the geo-engineering map at 1:30,000 scale. Due to significant differences between these maps, the second one was chosen for the Seismic Hazard Assessment. The seismic hazards, expressed in PGA, were calculated using the program EZFRISK for a 10% probability of exceedence in 50 years and a 2% probability of exceedence in 50 years, using the Global Models of ground motion prediction equations by Boore and Atkinson (2008) PGA, and Campbell and Bozorognia (2008) PGA–SA. The classification of buildings was carried out using the inventory map. The assessment of seismic risks to houses in Tbilisi was carried out on the basis of the European Macro-seismic scale. Relative social risks and relative economic losses for 2% and 10% probability SH were estimated.
As the whole territory of Armenia is situated in a high seismic active zone, the constant monitoring for its artificial water reservoirs and dams, and the assessment of their risk values, seismic assessment of dam stability is very real and important today. The earthquakes and floods that often take place here may cause dams to be destroyed, with subsequent great damage for the population and the environment. Data have been collected and analysed on the current conditions of reservoirs and dams and showed the main factors that determine the risk levels. The investigations, performed for the two most dangerous homeland large dams, were based on the main principles of total risk analysis for dams as presented in the recommendations of the International Committee of Large Dams (ICOLD [1–3]).
Amenia, SE Turkey and NW Iran are in the centre of the zone of continental collision of the Arabian lithosphere plate and have been subjected to intense faulting and earthquakes. An assessment of the natural hazard within the territory of one state is isolated and thus incomplete. The trans-boundary nature of active faults, and of the accompanying seismic and volcanic hazards, calls for trans-boundary cooperation in the study, assessment and mitigation of natural risk in the region.
Expert systems for current seismic hazard assessment (CSHA) are ensuring successful assessments. The new automated system, “Huys”, for CSHA was developed at the NSSP. At present the zone S of current seismic hazard, and its time interval Δt for earthquakes with Mmax≥M≥3.5, are defined by “Huys”. The value of Mmax for S zone is defined through seismological data. The “Huys” software is a self-educational program with everyday data acquisition. Retrospective testing of the “Huys” software for the 8 seismic events with M≥3.7 that occurred in Armenia in 1993-2007, resulted in good coincidence of distances between the epicentres of tested earthquakes and computed zones of current seismic hazard, as well as between computed times of earthquakes and the actual time. Maximum magnitude Mmax was defined through seismological methods.
During recent decades the number of emergencies caused by nature has tended to grow worldwide. The sharp growth in population density, urbanization and intensive industrialization, particularly in the developing countries, increases the population's vulnerability to a greater extent. Several countries experience devastating consequences of natural disasters over quite a long time span, consuming a significant part of the national budget. Human efforts are directed mainly at the minimization of the destructive consequences of natural disasters. It is obvious that the successful solution of the above-mentioned arduous socio-economic and scientific-technical problem is closely related to the possibility of developing reliable methods of forecasting natural disasters.
Environmental monitoring employing eco-geochemical research methods is one tool for assessing pollution risks and developing and implementing actions on mitigation of such pollution-induced damage.
Mountain water objects (MWO) are very dangerous complex objects, where local and global natural and man-made catastrophes can result in huge negative and irreversible damage to the environment and the population. The main processes, initiation and evolution of critical phenomena at MWO are under consideration, including a model for its risk and damage assessments, MWO classification on their dangerous degrees, risk management, development of counter measures for prediction/prevention of the catastrophes and reducing of negative effects.
The increase in destructive capacity and frequency of dangerous hydrometeorological phenomena, as well as the resultant economic damage, is marked. It is concluded that the recent activity of these phenomena in Armenia, and all over the world, is connected with a certain natural rhythm which is displayed by a global rise in climatic temperature and its consequences.
Many regions of Central Asia and Caucasus are characterised as zones of great global geochemical and radiological risks. This is connected with intense natural and man-made impacts, as well as the political and economic situation. For the first group of impacts we address mountainous areas with high seismic levels, large lakes and rivers with powerful hydroelectric stations, sizeable reservoirs and large high dams, high degrees of industrial activity that increases probabilities for man-induced and natural catastrophes with irreversible high levels of radioactive, toxic and other pollutants of large areas such as the Black, Caspian and Kara Seas, and their river basins. The second group of impacts relate to the disbanding of the USSR and the creation of new independent states with additional international frictions, which results in inadequate or totally absent environmental monitoring of, especially, trans-boundary areas. The proximity of these regions to zones of dormant or active conflicts promote situations with great opportunities for performing deliberate acts of terrorism using explosives, and area also able to cause man-induced catastrophes and stimulate natural calamities. Presented here is our approach to resolving the noted actual problems, and its implementation will promote the realization of the concept of substantial development and decreasing political stress for all countries located on the continent.
The causes and effects, including emergency preparedness of all agencies involved, of both natural and man-made disasters in 2010 in the Moldova region of Romania are examined, looking specifically at Dorohoi in Botosani County as an example. The lessons learned, and aspects which need further attention so as to help avoid future disasters, both natural and man made, are highlighted.