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close this bookDisaster Mitigation - 2nd Edition (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - Disaster Management Training Programme - United Nations Development Programme , 1994, 64 p.)
close this folderPart 1 - Introduction to mitigation concepts
close this folderSpecific Hazards and Mitigation
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentFloods and water hazards
View the documentEarthquakes
View the documentVolcanic eruption
View the documentLand instabilities
View the documentStrong winds (typhoons, hurricanes, cyclones, tropical storms and tornados)
View the documentTechnological hazards
View the documentDrought and desertification

Technological hazards

Mechanism of destruction

Explosions cause loss of life, injury and destruction of buildings and infrastructure; transportation accidents kill and injure passengers and crew, and may release hazardous and polluting substances; industrial fires can achieve very high temperatures and affect large areas; hazardous substances released into the air or water can travel long distances and cause contamination of air, water supply, land, crops and livestock making areas uninhabitable for humans; wildlife is destroyed, and ecological systems disrupted. Large-scale disasters can threaten the stability of the global ecology.

Parameters of severity

Quantity of hazardous substances released; temperature of fire; extent of explosion destruction; area of contamination of air, sea, groundwater; local intensity of contamination (parts per million, Becquerels/liter for radio-activity).


Fire; failures of plant safety design; incorrect plant operating procedures; failures of plant components; accidental impact; arson and sabotage; earthquakes.

Hazard assessment and mapping techniques

Inventories and maps of storage locations of toxic/hazardous substances and their characteristics; common transportation routes for dangerous substances; maps of possible zone of contamination and contamination intensity in the event of a release of any given size; traffic corridors and historical accident records for transportation hazard areas;

Potential for reducing hazard

Improved safety standards in plant and equipment design; anticipation of possible hazards in plant design; fail-safe design and operating procedures; dispersal of hazardous materials; legislation; preparedness planning

Onset and warning

Rapid (minutes or hours) or sudden (no warning); industrial plant design should incorporate monitoring and warning systems for fire, component failure and build-up of dangerous conditions; release of pollutants may be slow enough for warning and evacuation of plant operatives and public; explosions can in some cases be anticipated.

Elements most at risk

Industrial plant or vehicle and its employees or crew; passengers or residents of nearby settlements; adjacent buildings; livestock/crops in the vicinity of the plant (up to hundreds of kilometers in the case of large-scale releases of airborne pollutants and radioactive materials); regional water supply and hydrology; fauna and flora.

Main mitigation strategies

Reduce or eliminate hazard by the means listed above; improve fire-resistance by use of fire-resistant materials, building fire barriers, smoke extraction; improving detectors and warning systems; preparedness planning - improve firefighting and pollution dispersal capabilities, and emergency relief and evacuation planning for plant employees and nearby settlements, (crew and passengers in the case of vehicles). Initiate on-site and off-site safety plans, conduct drills in conjunction with local fire departments. Improve capabilities of civil defense and emergency authorities. Limit or reduce storage capacity of dangerous or flamable chemicals.

Community participation

Action to monitor pollution levels, to ensure inspection and enforcement of existing safety standards and to improve safety legislation. Prepare evacuation plans.