Economic development has always been associated with the risk generated not only by dangerous natural phenomena and processes, but also by human economic activity. At the same time, the consequences of the so-called “man-made disasters” were limited to the economic systems of individual regions (areas) of a particular country, and in exceptional and exceedingly rare cases – to the national economy.
If we analyze the industry-induced catastrophes of the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the 20th century, we can easily see that almost all of them occurred in the coal mining industry (miners’ deaths in mines) and in transport (shipwrecks, railroad accidents, air crashes). Even the notorious explosion in Canadian Halifax on December 6, 1917, which is the most powerful explosion in the history of mankind before the creation of nuclear weapons (according to official data, 1,963 people were killed, over 2,000 were missing, about 9,000 injured, 25,000 left homeless, 2 urban areas were wiped from the face of the earth, 1,600 were completely destroyed and 1,200 houses were badly damaged) was the result of a collision of two ships.
When speaking about purely industrial man-made disasters of that period, the tragedy of the factory for the production of aniline dyes and fertilizers, near the German town of Oppau, which took place on September 21, 1921, stands out. 12 tons of ammonium nitrate mixture and ammonium sulfate exploded with a force of 4-5 kilotons of TNT: 561 people died, more than 1.5 thousand people were injured and got burns, over 80% of buildings in Oppau were destroyed, over 7.5 thousand people left homeless, two neighboring villages were also destroyed. A few smaller (in terms of the number of human casualties and the size of the consequences) man-made disasters and accidents – and this is where the “contribution” of the vast majority of industries ends.
The situation radically changed in the second half of the 20th century, with the onset of another round of the scientific and technological revolution. There was a radical restructuring of the technical foundations of production based on the science transformation into a leading factor in production. The economic circulation began to involve more and more natural resources, the production base began to grow, more complex technological systems were used, and the amount of energy consumed increased.
Significant progress in the development of production at all levels of human activity has led to the emergence and operation of a huge number of production facilities using radiation, chemical, biological, fire and explosion-hazardous technologies. Accordingly, there was a potential risk of accidents and disasters at them, with much more significant scale and consequences. That was clearly demonstrated by the tragedy in Bhopal and Chernobyl disaster.
Even despite the obvious progress in the development of safety systems at industrial facilities, man-made accidents and catastrophes continue to occur. Moreover, their number is growing, as evidenced by the data of the Swiss company Swiss Re (one of the world’s largest reinsurance companies founded over 150 years ago): over the period 1970-2000, the number of man-made accidents and disasters with a total economic loss of more than USD 67 million each increased more than 3 times. At the same time, they occurred 1.6-1.7 times more often than natural emergency situations with comparable destructiveness.
This fact is confirmed by the United Nations (UN) data:
– in terms of their consequences, man-made disasters became comparable to natural disasters and now have the third place among all types of disasters, after hydrometeorological (floods and tsunamis) and geological (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, avalanches and mudflows) in terms of the number of deaths;
– over the past 30 years, the damage caused by man-made disasters has increased almost 3-fold and amounts to about USD 200 bln. a year.
In addition, the annual losses from man-made accidents and disasters are measured by thousands of human lives around the world and irreparable damage to the environment. Man-made accidents and catastrophes have a beginning, but they do not have ending, they are often unpredictable, the degree of damage caused by them does not decrease over time, as negative factors continue to operate for many more years, leading to severe environmental consequences. In addition, the increasing technogenic burden on the environment, transboundary pollution transfer and the resulting global environmental changes have led to the emergence of a new type of combined natural and man-made risks. They are increasingly beginning to prevail among the threats to sustainable development from emergencies.
In the last decades of the last century unprecedented “man-made disasters” caused mankind to seriously think about their own vulnerability and to search for ways of more secure and sustainable development. So the leading issue was the problem of man-made safety at industrial facilities in order to avoid the emergency situations during their operation.
This Study will investigate the situation in four manufacturing sectors – chemical, oil refining, coal mining and nuclear power. The choice was made based on the number and scale of man-made disasters that occurred and occur at the sites of these industries after the Second World War, as well as the amount of damage caused to human health and the environment. In addition, the Study will consider the legislative and regulatory requirements for the technogenic security of critical infrastructure facilities in several European countries, as well as practical aspects of regulation and supervision. Attention will also be paid to the key aspect, which will investigate the safety of chemical, oil refining, coal industries, nuclear power and critical infrastructure facilities- stress tests. The possibility and expediency of unifying the requirements for the safety of enterprises from the listed industries and critical infrastructure facilities will be considered.