Natech II Project: Effective Precaution for Natural Hazards and Chemical Accidents

Natural hazards are often accompanied by widespread devastation. But even minor events such as lightning strikes can cause damage to technical installations. It becomes particularly risky if accidents are triggered in technical facilities where hazardous substances are handled. In addition to the sometimes widespread destruction, poisonous, combustible or explosive substances also end up in the environment, emergency personnel have to extinguish refinery fires under difficult conditions, or extensive ecological or health damage occurs. Flooded chemical storage facilities or oil tanks destroyed by hurricanes are just two examples of such "Natural Hazards Triggered Technological Accidents", or "Natechs" for short.

Effective risk management with regard to Natechs requires the special attention of the state authorities as well as private plant operators. Potential natural hazards must be identified and taken into account in the planning and licensing of plant construction and operation. In order to prevent the occurrence of Natechs to the extent possible, comprehensive precautions must be taken, and careful contingency plans and adequate disaster control capacities are required in the event of a natural hazard occurring.

As a result of the predecessor project "Natech I", the OECD adopted guidelines in 2015 for improved Natech risk management. The aim of the "Natech II" project commissioned by the Federal Environment Agency was to promote the application of the recommendations contained in these guidelines. In addition, the project team identified, evaluated and disseminated examples of good practice in Natech risk management. This was done with particular attention to the possible consequences of climate change. 

At the beginning of the project, adelphi evaluated a study on the implementation of the OECD Guidelines on Natech Risk Management and presented the results of the OECD Working Group on Chemical Accidents.

Another part of the project was the Natech II Workshop, which took place in Potsdam in September 2018. Approximately 100 international participants from public authorities, industry, academia and research came together to exchange views on the state of the art in research and regulation and to share examples of good practice in Natech risk management. In seven sessions, the participants drew up recommendations for adapting and expanding the OECD guidelines, which were then forwarded and further discussed in the OECD's Working Group on Chemical Accidents. 

In order to implement the second addendum and the recommendations of the workshop, the project team elaborated recommendations specifically for German stakeholders (plant operators, authorities, academia) relevant to climate change and safety of installations. 

The examples of good practice presented at the workshop were supplemented by numerous other examples and jointly recorded in a directory of fact sheets. This directory was submitted to UBA where it was published and is being updated.