Technical disaster

Technical or technological disasters are caused by events that can be intense and sudden, induced by human processes. They originate from technological or industrial conditions, dangerous procedures, infrastructure failures or specific human activities (UNGA, 2016).

Technical systems are complex, with many dependent subsystems. The failure of one element within this system can cascade throughout the chain, causing a series of failures leading to a disaster. Technical hazards are increasing due to the scope of technological expansion. They include industrial activity that includes dangerous conditions, processes, all transport systems (land, sea, air), defensive or offensive weapons systems and power plants.

A new set of emerging technological risks under the Sendai Framework include Information and communications technology (ICT)-related hazards. The increasing dependence upon complex large-scale network architectures of information technologies also increases exposure to cyber security threats. These threats include computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, malware, spoofing attacks, identity theft, the theft and illegal disclosure of data, the loss of data and contamination of data. They have the potential to disrupt essential infrastructure operations such as communication, health, banking, transportation, energy, education and many other services.

Risk factors

  • Ageing, abandoned or idle installations.
  • Insufficient institutional and legal capacities.
  • Natural hazards: storms, landslides, floods or earthquakes can cause industrial accidents.

Vulnerable areas

  • Residential communities around industrial establishments tend to be most at risk because of their proximity.

Risk reduction measures

  • Assess the risks before planning and building critical infrastructure.
  • Develop policies and practices for continuity management.
  • Integrate the risks into planning, foresee and reduce cascading effects.
  • Create a hazard map to identify people at risk and their vulnerability.
  • Draft national, regional and local response plans.
  • Put in place early warning/monitoring systems to inform response.
  • Ensure contingency and response plans are in place at a national and local level to evacuate people on time.
  • Assess new technologies.
  • Improve crisis communication before, during and after the event.
  • Organize training and exercises for complex scenarios involving multiple interdependent failures.
  • Educate and raise awareness on potential risks.

Latest Technical Disaster additions in the Knowledge Base

A new study has provided new insights into the extensive impact of metal mining contamination on rivers and floodplains across the world, with an estimated 23 million people believed to be affected by potentially dangerous concentrations of toxic waste.
University of Lincoln
Weak coordination, unsustainable funding sources, poor infrastructure, and under-resourced public services not only hinder timely and proper response, but often exacerbate the damages and casualties from disasters in Lebanon.
The Public Source
Regardless of the technical reason a dam fails, there’s always a bigger story behind it. These stories of some of humanity’s most notable dam disasters all offer lessons for today.
Cover and title of publication
This checklist aims to facilitate a robust approach to reviewing fire safety provisions in building and/or fire regulations by providing a discussion of fundamental fire safety components of building and/or fire regulations.
World Bank, the
A new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters examines the links between drinking water quality violations and social vulnerability in the United States.
Institute of Physics Publishing Limited
On Sept. 3, 1973, a fire swept through the baghouse of the Bunker Hill mine in Idaho’s Silver Valley. The building was designed to filter pollutants produced by smelting, the melting of rocks that separates metal from its ore.
Conversation Media Group, the
Disease outbreaks, a mental health crisis and lack of access to care are among the devastating health impacts of the destruction of the Kahkovka dam in southern Ukraine a week ago, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.
United Nations - Headquarters
The reports revealed that some long trains were too big to fit into sidings off of main tracks that were often built to accommodate trains no longer than 1.4 miles, and passing trains were crashing into their rear ends.