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The human impact and tragedy from natural hazards has a near daily presence in the media, and we are largely powerless to where Mother Nature will strike next and with what intensity. But what about our high hazard process industries and their resilience to natural hazards, where an event has the potential to not only cause facility shutdown but can escalate into a major incident where the natural hazard exploits weaknesses to trigger inherent hazard events?
The Tōhoku earthquake in 2011 led to a major tsunami with devastating human impact, that in turn triggered a major event at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant after emergency systems failed to operate resulting in multiple release events of radioactive material to the atmosphere. The wild fires in Alberta, Canada in May 2016 not only caused widespread need for human evacuation, but also shutdown significant parts of the regions oil sands production activity.
More recently in August 2017, Hurricane Harvey caused heavy flooding at a chemical facility which again compromised emergency systems, and set off a chain of events that came close to a major accident that could have had far reaching off-site impact.
This Hazards Forum event will look at natural hazards in the context of high hazard process industries from three different but complimentary angles. It will ask and provide answer to the question, are design codes of practice keeping pace with the observed reality and experience of the impact of natural hazards to industrial infrastructure?
It will also consider how major insurance and reinsurance companies, who provide risk transfer opportunities to owners and operators alike, assess and manage the underwriting of oil and gas facilities, where accurate aggregation of potential exposure is crucial to their business model.
Finally, there will be an opportunity to see how a joint industry project will in 2018 be providing guidelines to engineers for the design of future UK infrastructure to be resilient to a wide range of natural hazards including those that do not often grab the headlines, but none the less could have major impact on operations.
Natural Hazards is one of three current Strategic Themes for the Hazards Forum.