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 How fires are changing the tundra’s face
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

nachricht Using drones to estimate crop damage by wild boars
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

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: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A whole-body approach to understanding chemosensory cells

13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

Water without windows: Capturing water vapor inside an electron microscope

13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cellular Self-Digestion Process Triggers Autoimmune Disease

13.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>