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Technological accidents triggered by natural disasters

The JRC supports EU member state authorities in evaluating, analysing and preparing for the risks posed by chemical or industrial accidents triggered by natural disasters (Natechs). The support includes the management of a database of these accidents

Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, storms, etc., can damage chemical plants or oil and gas pipelines, causing the release of hazardous materials. These accidents are also called Natech accidents. Currently, there is little knowledge on the dynamics of Natechs and the situation is aggravated by the expected increase of Natech risk due to climate change and the increasing vulnerability of our society. The JRC supports the industry and the EU member states in the identification and reduction of Natech risk.

Extensive work is being performed at the JRC to better understand the impact of natural hazards on chemical infrastructures due to their major accident potential. In this regard, the JRC focuses on the development of analysis methodologies and tools to improve knowledge on damage and failure dynamics due to natural events in industrial facilities, as well as on the consequences in terms of safety and supply security. An example is the JRC Natech risk analysis and mapping tool RAPID-N that was developed to identify Natech-prone areas and to analyse and visualize Natech risk to support authorities in their decision-making process. RAPID-N, which has currently been implemented for earthquakes, can be used for land-use- and emergency planning purposes but also for preliminary damage assessment immediately after an earthquake. In addition, the JRC performs Natech accident analyses to learn lessons from these accidents, and it has developed recommendations for future Natech accident prevention and mitigation to help increase the resilience of industry toward natural-disaster impact. The JRC also created and maintains the eNATECH accident database which collects detailed data on Natech accidents worldwide.

Derelict factory.
© Photographer/Credit: E. Krausmann

To find out more about the JRC's work on similar topics, explore the related JRC portfolios: