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Analysis of Natech Risk Reduction in EU Member States Using a Questionnaire Survey

A study on the status of Natech risk reduction in EU Member States was performed by means of a questionnaire survey. A clear tendency towards recognising natural hazards as an important external risk source for chemical facilities could be established. In addition, more than half of the responding countries declared to have suffered one or more Natech accidents with the release of toxic substances, fires and/or explosions and sometimes fatalities and injuries. The natural events that triggered these Natech accidents were not necessarily the ones that were believed to be of major concern so there is a discrepancy between actual causes and risk perception. The results of this Natech questionnaire survey show that the responding countries have largely recognised natural hazards and disasters as a relevant source of risk to a chemical facility with the potential to trigger a major accident. A framework for Natech risk reduction exists but a strategic Natech risk-reduction initiative appears to be lacking. Moreover, the survey highlighted a number of shortcomings and gaps that need to be addressed to achieve effective risk reduction. Considering the findings of this study the following areas for future work were identified: + Raising awareness and improving risk communication at all levels of government and in industry; + The implementation and enforcement of specific regulations for Natech risk reduction; + The preparation of specific technical codes and of guidelines for risk assessment in industry that address the characteristics of Natech risk; + The development of guidance on Natech risk assessment at the community level; + The development of methods and tools for Natech risk assessment; + The preparation of dedicated Natech emergency management plans which consider the characteristics of Natech accidents (e.g. a possible lack of utilities); + Identification of best practices for Natech risk reduction and wide dissemination of existing practices; + The development of Natech risk maps to support effective land-use planning and emergency management; + Land-use planning that explicitly addresses Natech risk; + Training of competent authorities on Natech risk reduction both for officials in charge of chemical-accident prevention and those in charge of natural-disaster management; + Research into the impact of climate change on future Natech risk. In order to support the process of improving Natech risk reduction lessons learned from the analysis of past Natech accidents should be formulated and disseminated widely. These lessons should address failure modes and hazardous-substance release paths as a function of natural-hazard severity, as well as identify riskreduction measures and possible best practices. As this requires the systematic collection of data on the causes and dynamics of Natech events the JRC has set up a specific Natech accident database which is public to allow the widest possible access to the accident data. Moreover, indicators for measuring the effectiveness and adequacy of Natech risk-reduction measures should be developed.