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Improving protection of critical infrastructure needs special attention in the Mediterranean

Source(s):  Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Programme on Prevention, Preparedness and Response to Natural and Man-made Disasters (PPRD South)

Press release:

How to improve resistance to damage of important infrastructures and their functioning without interruption during and after hazardous events is the main focus of the workshop on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Mitigation for Critical Facilities’ Failure organised by the EU-funded PPRD South Programme in Cyprus, from 21 to 23 March 2012.

For three days, 20 experts from the Civil Protection Authorities and line ministries of 10 Mediterranean and Balkan countries will gather on the southern coast of Cyprus where, on 11 July 2011 a massive munitions blast at the Evangelos Florakis naval base killed 13 people and caused great damage to the island's largest power station thus limiting severely the supply of water and electricity. To mitigate the consequences, the Cypriot Civil Defence requested international assistance through the network of the European Civil Protection Authorities asking for electricity generators and for support in assessing the damage of the power station and its further restoration.

The workshop, which will be opened by Maria Papa, Head of the Cypriot Civil Defence, will analyse in detail the July 2011 accident and will try to set out the key role of hazard mitigation in the design, construction, and maintenance of essential facilities and of the necessary functions they provide.

Critical facilities include emergency response infrastructures such as fire and police stations, emergency operation centres, hospitals, schools, emergency shelters, water supply, wastewater treatment, power, communications and transport facilities and any other infrastructure of great importance for the delivery of vital services to the population. The negative effects of damaged critical facilities can extend far beyond direct physical damage. They can cause the disruption of health care, fire, police services, emergency medical care, and even deny access to damaged areas.

The devastating effects of the accident on the southern coast of Cyprus or of the Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or of the Fukushima tsunami in 2011 underlined the vulnerability of coastal areas, the fastest growing regions all over the world. The population pressure and the hostile coastal development in areas subject to a wide range of risks require careful consideration on possible effects of natural and technological hazards on the sustainability of this development. During the workshop, special attention will be given on how to increase the reliability of the physical and social infrastructure of Mediterranean coastal communities.

The permanent population of the Mediterranean coastal states is approximately 460 million, 33% of which – 150 million - live permanently along the 46,000 km of Mediterranean coastline - a figure that doubles during the summer tourist season. Almost 2,300 major settlements were identified along the Mediterranean coast, an average of one every 20 km, including 585 coastal towns of over 10,000 inhabitants, 750 yacht harbours, 286 commercial ports, 13 gas plants, 55 refineries, 180 thermal power stations, 112 airports, 238 desalination plants, etc.. These represent a complex system of facilities which are essential for the maintenance of vital societal functions such as health, safety, security, economic and social well-being of peoples. The disruption or destruction of one of these facilities can represent a significant negative impact for the area. The workshop will tackle these important aspects in order to increase emergency preparedness and disaster mitigation for those facilities in the region.

For more information, please contact: Alessandro Candeloro, +39 349 0850931,

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  • Publication date 19 Mar 2012

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