Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Katrina Storm Surge Led to Over 200 Onshore Releases of Petroleum and Hazardous Materials, Rivaling Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

22.04.2010
Scientists call for more risk-based facility design and improved prevention, response planning.

Hurricane Katrina was the cause of more than 200 onshore releases of petroleum and other hazardous materials, a new study funded by the National Science Foundation has found.

According to comprehensive research using government incident databases, about 8 million gallons of petroleum releases were reported as a result of Katrina hitting the U.S. Gulf coast in 2005, nearly 75 percent of the total volume of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. The releases were largely due to storage tank failure and the shut down and restart of production processes. Storm surge floods were the primary cause, but some incidents occurred as a result of hurricane and tropical storm strength winds where no surge was present, according to the authors.

The study “Petroleum and Hazardous Material Releases from Industrial Facilities Associated with Hurricane Katrina” appears in the April issue of the journal Risk Analysis published by the Society for Risk Analysis.

The authors include consultant Nicholas Santella, Laura Steinberg of Syracuse University, and Hatice Sengul of the Turkish Scientific and Technological Research Council. Ten onshore releases of petroleum products were greater than 10,000 gallons each, primarily made up of crude oil that leaked from storage tanks. Fewer and smaller releases were reported from chemical and manufacturing industries handling hazardous materials. Of the releases from onshore facilities and storage tanks, 76 percent were petroleum, 18 percent were chemicals and six percent were natural gas. Many refineries and other facilities shut down in anticipation of large storms to minimize damage and prevent process upsets and are required to do so for safety purposes. However, shutdowns and restarts have the disadvantage of leading to potentially large emissions of volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, and other chemicals.

“More attention should be given to planning for shutdowns, including coordination with government entities responsible for evacuation, and to plant startup after an emergency shutdown in order to minimize burning off excess gas by flaring and other releases,” according to the authors. For example, storage tanks can be filled with water and other steps can be taken to mitigate damage during severe storms and floods.

“Where large releases do occur, in-depth analysis by each plant of mechanism of failure and contributing factors should be required,” the authors add. Significant factors slowing response to the Katrina damage included indirect disruptions, such as displacement of workers, loss of electricity and communication systems, and difficulty acquiring supplies and contractors for operations and reconstruction. Of industrial facilities responding to a survey in the study, 55 percent experienced indirect disruptions, far more than had environmental releases of hazardous materials, indicating improved risk-based facility design and improved prevention and response planning may be warranted.

“Chemical accident prevention and emergency response regulations in the US and elsewhere generally do not address the threat of natural hazards directly. While many companies are proactive in taking steps to mitigate natural hazard risk, others may make only the minimum effort require by statute,” the authors conclude. The study is the first to comprehensively analyze the incidence and causes of releases from all types of onshore industrial facilities as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The analysis relies on the key incident reporting databases of the National Response Center (NRC) Incident Reporting Information System (IRIS) administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. In addition, interviews and data were obtained from federal and Gulf state environmental agencies, energy and chemical associations, public accounts of particular incidents, and a small industry survey.

Risk Analysis: An International Journal is published by the nonprofit Society for Risk Analysis (SRA). SRA is a multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, scholarly, international society that provides an open forum for all those who are interested in risk analysis. Risk analysis is broadly defined to include risk assessment, risk characterization, risk communication, risk management, and policy relating to risk, in the context of risks of concern to individuals, to public and private sector organizations, and to society at a local, regional, national, or global level.

Note to editors: The complete study is available upon request from Lisa Pellegrin/Steve Gibb or here: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/123322882/HTMLSTART

Steve Gibb | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.sra.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>