Workshop: Protecting Hazardous Facilities against Natural Hazards

Kongresshotel Potsdam
Am Luftschiffhafen 1
14471 Potsdam

How to prevent chemical accidents at hazardous installations due to natural hazards? In a workshop (in English) from 5th to 7th September at Potsdam (Germany) the German Environment Agency and Partners from the United Nations and the OECD will present examples of good practice in related risk management. In addition related recommendations and guidance shall be drafted.

Together with the OECD Working Group on Chemical Accidents, the UN Environment and OCHA Joint Unit, the Secretariat of the UNECE "Accident Convention", and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) the German Environment Agency organizes a workshop on Natech risk management. "Natech" means "chemical" accidents caused by natural hazards. 

Not least after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan 2011 and hurricane Harvey 2017 in the USA, which did not just cause destruction of private houses but also led to accidents at chemical and petrochemical sites, there is heightened concern of the risks posed by natural hazards affecting “chemical” facilities. As the cases of hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, or earthquakes, but also of lightning and heavy snowfalls show, natural hazards can cause extensive damages to “chemical” plants, which trigger chemical accident. Uncontrolled release of hazardous substances, fire, and explosions can not only endanger people but also significantly pollute the environment.

These Natural Hazard Triggered Technical Accidents (Natechs) have specific characteristics:

  • The triggering, propagation and consequences of Natechs may not be covered by “conventional” accident scenarios, used for design and layout of facilities.
  • Natech risk management requires the involvement of experts for natural hazards, in many cases of civil or hydraulic engineers. The knowledge of these experts must be integrated in risk studies for “chemical” installations.
  • Climate change can make some natural hazards occurring at locations where they never had been observed, or more frequent or more severe.
  • Natural hazards must not be extreme to cause Natechs.
  • Natural hazards can affect several installations by the same time. They can cause a series of Natechs.
  • In case of natural disasters the vulnerability of the population will be increased. A Natech in these situations will have severer consequences then an equivalent chemical accident at other times. 
  • During natural hazards/natural disasters the availability and capability of emergency responders can be limited.

Therefore Natechs should receive more attention by policy makers, regulators, facility operators, authorities, and scientists. There is a need for explicitly including Natech risks into chemical accident prevention, preparedness and response activities.

The overall objective of the workshop is the exchange of information between industry, authorities, other stakeholders, and science among OECD Member and Non-Member countries. The focus will be on presenting good practice examples, how Natech risks can be better considered in risk management, emergency planning, disaster management, climate change adaptation, and risk communication. Furthermore, recommendations and guidance concerning Natech prevention and Natech risk management in the light of sustainable development, disaster risks reduction, and climate change adaptation will be developed.

The workshop will consider both of the following approaches

  • Natech risk reduction as a part of chemical accident prevention, preparedness and response, and
  • Natech risk reduction as a part of natural disaster risks prevention, preparedness and response.

The workshop will outline what the responsibilities of the involved stakeholders (regulators, authorities, and – according to the polluter-pays-principle– of the industry and operators of facilities) are.

This workshop is intended to exchange views and experiences on Natech risk management, to foster implementation and to discuss and distribute examples of good practices of Natech risk management strategies and instruments of industry and authorities.

It will be important to view such action in light of international frames such as

  • the UN Sustainable Development Goals and targets,
  • the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and
  • the second addendum to the OECD Guiding Principles for Chemical Accident Prevention, Preparedness and Response (Natech-Addendum).

More information on the workshop, an outline, the programme, and logistical information are available at

The language of the workshop will be English. There is no fee for participation in the Workshop.

Registration for participation should be completed by August 27, 2018, at

Please wait for confirmation! Travel arrangements shall be done after confirmation. There will be no reimbursement of travel expenses. 

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