Master of Environmental Studies Capstone Projects

RISK ASSESSMENT OF CONTAMINANT MIGRATION ON ENVIRONMENT AND COASTAL COMMUNITIES DUE TO HURRICANES – A REVIEW

Meighan Long, University of Pennsylvania

Document Type Thesis or dissertation

Abstract

Studies specifically focusing on effects of contamination migration to the environment and human health pertaining to hurricane activity are minimal, yet necessary to understand risk and mitigate future impacts of these devastating storms. A hurricane’s speed and direction are heavily dependent on the intricate interaction between the atmosphere and ocean, including the presence or absence of additional weather patterns. The complexity of these conditions makes it very difficult to predict the impacts of such a storm, including threat to human health by exposure to contaminants, damage to structures and facilities housing hazardous substances, and contamination dispersion from a facility into the environment and surrounding communities. Since the intensity of hurricane events has been increasing globally, many efforts have been made to predict these natural storms. 1 Evaluations of the consequences that storms pose on impacted coastal communities and environments once they pass must not be neglected. A limited number of previous studies have discussed the destructive influences natural disasters have on technological industries, known as “na-tech” events. However, the majority of those studies are conducted with a wide lens, considering all the possibilities of natural disasters together and overlooking non-industrial cases. This project will review available data to analyze risk posed on environments and communities specifically from hurricane impacts. Thorough examination of public records will be conducted for industrial and non-industrial facilities that handle hazardous substances and contamination, such as chlorinated solvents, heavy metals, and organic compounds. The goal is to more accurately assess how communities and their surrounding environments will be affected by hurricane-induced contaminant releases in order to support future preparation, mitigation, and response efforts.

 

Date Posted: 10 June 2020