Empirical Estimation of the Conditional Probability of Natech Events Within the United States

Nicholas Santella, Laura J. Steinberg, Gloria Andrea Aguirra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Natural disasters are the cause of a sizeable number of hazmat releases, referred to as "natechs." An enhanced understanding of natech probability, allowing for predictions of natech occurrence, is an important step in determining how industry and government should mitigate natech risk. This study quantifies the conditional probabilities of natechs at TRI/RMP and SICS 1311 facilities given the occurrence of hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods. During hurricanes, a higher probability of releases was observed due to storm surge (7.3 releases per 100 TRI/RMP facilities exposed vs. 6.2 for SIC 1311) compared to category 1-2 hurricane winds (5.6 TRI, 2.6 SIC 1311). Logistic regression confirms the statistical significance of the greater propensity for releases at RMP/TRI facilities, and during some hurricanes, when controlling for hazard zone. The probability of natechs at TRI/RMP facilities during earthquakes increased from 0.1 releases per 100 facilities at MMI V to 21.4 at MMI IX. The probability of a natech at TRI/RMP facilities within 25 miles of a tornado was small (∼0.025 per 100 facilities), reflecting the limited area directly affected by tornadoes. Areas inundated during flood events had a probability of 1.1 releases per 100 facilities but demonstrated widely varying natech occurrence during individual events, indicating that factors not quantified in this study such as flood depth and speed are important for predicting flood natechs. These results can inform natech risk analysis, aid government agencies responsible for planning response and remediation after natural disasters, and should be useful in raising awareness of natech risk within industry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)951-968
Number of pages18
JournalRisk Analysis
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Hazardous material
  • Natech
  • Natural disaster

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Physiology (medical)


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