European Commission’s Joint Research Centre leads the way with new inspection advice on Natech risk management at hazardous sites

Oct 12, 2020

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published a ground-breaking technical guide for inspectors that can be used to help in evaluating the adequacy of a hazardous site’s “Natech” (natural hazard triggering technological disasters) risk management programme. For the first time, inspectors have concrete methods for evaluating Natech risk assessments and how Natech risks are presented in the safety report and

controlled on-site. This publication is part of the JRC’s Seveso Inspection Series on Common Inspection Criteria (CIC), and is the fruit of a partnership between JRC and EU Member State inspectorates.

Prevention of chemical accidents triggered by natural hazards has been recognised as a critical objective in managing Seveso sites and other hazardous activities. In 2012, Natech risk was explicitly addressed in the EU’s Seveso Directive (2012/18/EC) as an important component of the site’s safety report (Annex II of the Directive).

In the context of chemical accident risk, Natech risk assessment is a relatively new field, to the extent that methods and tools to support risk assessment, risk management, monitoring and enforcement are not yet widely available, or in some cases, still evolving. The JRC’s TechRisk team is a global leader in the effort to establish good practice to cope with Natech risk through modeling (available in the RAPID-N risk assessment tool) and recommendations for prevention, preparedness and emergency response developed from its analyses of Natech accident events and their impacts.

In addition, the Natech CIC explains the definition and scope of Natech risks and typical characteristics of Natech events, including key differences with so-called conventional technological events, (triggered most often by technical and human failures). As noted in the CIC: “Natural hazards can cause multiple and simultaneous releases over extended areas, possibly overwhelming on- and off-site response capacities. The safety measures in place to prevent conventional major accidents or mitigate their consequences are often ineffective or insufficient against Natechs as they are usually not designed to withstand a natural event.”

The CIC identifies and explains the components of Natech risk information, including:

Assessment of natural hazards in the area of the establishment;

Identification of equipment damage and vulnerability;

Identification of contributing factors, e.g. disruption of safety systems and utilities;

Identification and description of Natech accident scenarios.

The document also provides an overview of measures for managing Natech risk including options for improving the resistance of equipment and structures, additional controls to improve the preparedness to Natech events, and how to ensure that normal operations are safely restored after the event.

A particular feature of this CIC publication is the annexes on Natech risk assessment, including

An overview of probabilistic and deterministic approaches as applied to Natech risk;

Advice on how to select reference parameters associated with the structural resistance of various equipment and event intensity;

Typical damage modes of pipes and equipment resulting from natural hazard events;

Approaches to assessing the Natech scenario likelihood.

You can find the CIC on-line at: https://minerva.jrc.ec.europa.eu/en/shorturl/minerva/publications


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