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Addressing Gaps in Environmental Emergency Planning: Hazardous Materials Releases during Earthquakes

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Hazardous materials, in many forms, are ubiquitous in modern society. They are integrated into communities in the form of manufacturing and commercial establishments, medical facilities and laboratories-'hazmat' also circulates through communities in the transportation process, by rail, truck and pipeline. In areas vulnerable to earthquakes, hazmat releases constitute a secondary disaster that can be triggered by seismic action. This paper points out that little research and management attention have been given to the issue of earthquake-induced hazardous materials releases. The problem and its potential consequences are defined, and the history of hazmat releases in recent earthquakes is reviewed. Existing studies of earthquakeinduced hazardous materials releases are critiqued to identify gaps in knowledge that should be filled as a preface to meaningful efforts at planning for this hazard. Suggestions are outlined for the types of information needed to establish a database from which threat assessments, mitigation measures and emergency response strategies may be derived.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 1996

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