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DISASTERS A disaster is a natural or man-made hazard resulting in an event of substantial extent causing significant physical damage or destruction, loss

of life, or drastic change to the environment. A disaster can be extensively defined as any tragic event stemming from events such as earthquakes, floods, catastrophic accidents, fires, or explosions. It is a phenomenon that can cause damage to life and property and destroy the economic, social and cultural life of people.

Man-made Disaster Man-made disasters are the consequence of technological or human hazards. Examples include stampedes, fires, transport accidents, industrial accidents, oil spills and nuclear explosions/ radiation. War and deliberate attacks may also be put in this category. As with natural hazards, man-made hazards are events that have not happened, for instance terrorism. Man-made disasters are examples of spe cific cases where man-made hazards have become reality in an event.

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Nuclear Disaster A nuclear disaster is defined as an event that has led to significant consequences to people, the environment or the facility. Examples include lethal effects to individuals, large radioactivity release to the environment, or reactor core melt. Technical measures to reduce the risk of accidents or to minimize the amount of radioactivity released to the environment have been adopted. Serious nuclear power plant accidents include the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (2011), Chernobyl disaster (1986), Three Mile Island accident (1979), and the SL-1 accident (1961). Prevention:To achieve optimum safety, nuclear plants operate using a defence-in-depth approach, with multiple safety systems supplementing the natural features of the reactor core. The key aspects of the approach are prevention, monitoring, and action to mitigate consequences of failures by adopting

high-quality design and construction equipment which prevents operational disturbances or human failures and errors developing into problems

comprehensive monitoring and regular testing to detect equipment or operator failures

redundant and diverse systems to control damage to the fuel and prevent significant radioactive releases

Provision to confine the effects of severe fuel damage or any other problem to the plant itself.

Chemical Disaster A chemical accident is the unintentional release of one or more hazardous substances which could harm human health or the environment. Such events include fires, explosions, leakages or releases of toxic or hazardous materials that can cause people illness, injury, disability or death. The most significant chemical accidents in recorded history was the 1984 Bhopal disaster in India, in which more

than 3,000 people were killed after a highly toxic vapour of methyl isocyanate was released at a Union Carbide pesticides factory. The Bhopal gas tragedy was, a gas leak incident in India, considered the world's worst industrial disaster. It occurred on the night of 2-3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals. The official immediate death toll was 2,259. A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries. Civil and criminal cases are pending in the District Court of Bhopal, India, involving UCC and Warren Anderson, UCC CEO at the time of the disaster. In June 2010, seven ex-employees, including the former UCIL Chairman, were convicted in Bhopal of causing death by negligence and sentenced to two years imprisonment and a fine of about $2,000 each, the maximum punishment allowed by Indian law. Prevention The amount of safety measures employed by chemical plants is a function of 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Risk and hazard associated with the specific chemical plants Local laws and regulations Vigilance level of local community Technical competence of the plant managers The companys own standard of ethics vs short-term profitability decisions etc.

The preparedness for people around large chemical plants and storage facilities should include 1. Be aware as to what are the kind of chemicals being used/ produced/ stored/ handled at the facility 2. Besides knowing the names of these various chemicals, the people should also learn, the toxicity level of these chemicals, their important properties, including reactivity with other chemicals found/ used/ stored in the nearby areas 3. Be aware of the various processes/ machines etc. involved which could create a blast/ explosion etc.


Installing a mechanism for alerting, when something goes wrong. This is for the factory to alert the local community that something has gone wrong. This could be as simple as siren based system


Installing a mechanism for the community to be able to alert the factory staff, in case they notice something going wrong (e.g. unusual discharge from chimney and/ or any other kind of liquid/ gaseous vent/ outlet etc.). This could be as simple as the phone nos. for the important factory department being available easily with many people in the community.

Biological Disasters Biological disaster is the devastating effects caused by an enormous spread of a certain kind of living organism, which may the spread a disease, virus, or an epidemic. Apart from the natural transnational movement of the pathogenic

organisms, their potential use as weapons of biological warfare and bio-terrorism has become far more important. Utilization of organisms causing smallpox, anthrax, plague, botulism and tularemia, by such terrorist groups can cause greater harm and panic. Biological Agents are living organisms or their toxic products that can kill or incapacitate people, livestock, and plants. The three basic groups of biological agents, which could be used as weapons, are bacteria, viruses, and toxins. Most biological agents are difficult to grow and maintain. Many break down quickly when exposed to sunlight and other environmental factors, while others, such as anthrax spores, are very long lived. Biological agents can be dispersed by spraying them into the air, by infecting animals that carry the disease to humans, and by contaminating food and water. Even a small-scale biological attack with a weapon grade agent on an urban center could cause massive morbidity and mortality, rapidly overwhelming the local medical capabilities. For example, an aerosolized release of little as 100 kg of anthrax spores upwind of a metro city of a size of Washington DC has been estimated to have the potential to cause up to three millions of deaths. Prevention 1. The general population should be educated and the made aware of the threats and risks associated with it. i. Only cooked food and boiled/ chlorinated/ filtered water should be consumed ii. iii. 2. Insects and rodents control measures must be initiated immediately. Clinical isolation of suspected and confirmed cases is essential.

An early accurate diagnosis is the key to manage casualties of biological warfare. Therefore, a network of specialised laboratories should be established for a confirmatory laboratory diagnosis.


Existing disease surveillance system as well as vector control measures have be pursued more rigorously.


Mass immunization programme in the suspected area has be more vigorously followed up.


Enhancing the knowledge and skills of clinicians plays a vital role in controlling the adverse impact of the attack. As bio-terrorism related infections

will remain rare events, creative ongoing strategies will be required to sustain attention to potential new cases.