Joint Seismic and technological disasters: Possible impacts and community preparedness in an urban setting

Laura J. Steinberg, Victoria Basolo, Raymond Burby, Joyce N. Levine, Ana Maria Cruz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Seismic events can trigger releases of gaseous hazardous chemicals stored in large quantities at industrial facilities. If these releases occur near residential communities, large numbers of people are placed at risk and simultaneously must cope with the effects of the earthquake. In this study, we delineate the gaseous plume that might be created upon the release of hydrogen fluoride from an oil refinery located in an urban southern California community, as the result of a catastrophic earthquake. Personal interviews with local emergency response officials and in-plant health and safety officers indicate that these types of events have been anticipated, and a state of elevated organizational readiness exists to respond to earthquake and hazardous materials emergencies if necessary. However, survey results from a random sample of residents living within the area encompassed by the plume show that even in a community with a substantial community outreach program, many residents are under-prepared for an earthquake, hazardous materials release, or a conjoint disaster. The conclusions to the paper provide recommendations on how local government and industry can improve resident readiness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-169
Number of pages11
JournalNatural Hazards Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • California
  • Chemical spills
  • Community planning
  • Disasters
  • Earthquake damage
  • Earthquakes
  • Emergency services
  • Hazardous materials
  • Risk management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Social Sciences


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