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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 11, issue 4 | Copyright

Special issue: Natural hazards and technological disasters

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 1129-1140, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 21 Apr 2011

Research article | 21 Apr 2011

The natech events during the 17 August 1999 Kocaeli earthquake: aftermath and lessons learned

S. Girgin S. Girgin
  • European Commission, Joint Research Center, Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen,TP 361, Via E. Fermi 2749, 21027 Ispra (VA), Italy

Abstract. Natural-hazard triggered technological accidents (natechs) at industrial facilities have been recognized as an emerging risk. Adequate preparedness, proper emergency planning, and effective response are crucial for the prevention of natechs and mitigation of the consequences. Under the conditions of a natural disaster, the limited resources, the possible unavailability of mitigation measures, and the lack of adequate communication complicate the management of natechs. The analysis of past natechs is crucial for learning lessons and for preventing or preparing for future natechs. The 17 August 1999, Kocaeli earthquake, which was a devastating disaster hitting one of the most industrialized regions of Turkey, offers opportunities in this respect. Among many natechs that occurred due to the earthquake, the massive fire at the TUPRAS Izmit refinery and the acrylonitrile spill at the AKSA acrylic fiber production plant were especially important and highlight problems in the consideration of natechs in emergency planning, response to industrial emergencies during natural hazards, and information to the public during and following the incidents. The analysis of these events shows that even the largest and seemingly well-prepared facilities can be vulnerable to natechs if risks are not considered adequately.

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