Assessing flood risk associated with waste disposals: methodology, application and uncertainties

Authors: Neuhold, C.1; Nachtnebel, H.2

Source: Natural Hazards, Volume 56, Number 1, January 2011 , pp. 359-370(12)

Publisher: Springer

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Abstract:

Waste disposal sites are mostly located in lowland areas close to residential areas inducing a long-term risk of potential environmental contamination due to flooding. During recent flood events, these areas were reportedly exposed to inundations. This paper aims to develop a qualitative approach to assess flood risk associated with flood-prone waste disposals at the basis of Austrian case studies. Risk is investigated as a function of the probability of an event and the consequences of that event. The presented assessment approach is characterized as qualitative as consequences are expressed in risk categories but not in expected (monetary) losses. The probability of inundation, the hydrodynamic impacts on considered waste disposal sites and the expected consequences to the environment (potential emissions of hazardous substances) were linked. Derived risk categories from “minor risk” to “serious risk” were used to express flood risk to environmental goods like groundwater bodies, nature reserves and recreation areas. A screening of 1,064 waste disposals yielded roughly 30% of sites located within or close to flood risk zones. Three representative case study areas were selected and investigated in detail by applying 2D hydrodynamic models to calculate flow depths and shear stress and by developing emission scenarios. The hydrodynamic modelling covered three hydrologic scenarios with statistical recurrence intervals of 30, 100 and 300¬†years. Derived leaching scenarios ranged from minor emissions up to total erosion of the waste disposal site. Based on four parameters representing flood characteristics, the susceptibility to erosion (flow velocity and shear stress) and the estimated leaching behaviour, a flood risk evaluation matrix (FREM) was elaborated. The study outlines that in case of flooding the hazardous emissions could lead to partly tremendous impacts on environmental goods. Identified uncertainties associated with considered processes were considerably high. However, the developed qualitative approach provides a decision support aid to identify waste disposals with imminent risk for humans and the environment.

Keywords: Austria; Environmental flood risk assessment; Hydrodynamic modelling; Uncertainties; Waste disposal

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11069-010-9575-9

Affiliations: 1: Department for Water, Atmosphere and Environment, Institute of Water Management, Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Muthgasse 18, 1190, Vienna, Austria, Email: clemens.neuhold@boku.ac.at 2: Department for Water, Atmosphere and Environment, Institute of Water Management, Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Muthgasse 18, 1190, Vienna, Austria

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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