Re: [SystemSafety] Risk Based Planning and Assessment - tank farms

From: James Ronback < >
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2012 20:33:48 -0800


Andy,

Thanks for your thoughts on the subject.

In addition to natural hazards, I'm also interested in how effectively city planning departments make use of risk based planning and assessment for developing industrial areas near residential ones, e.g. jet fuel tank farms. I gather some recommendations were made in the UK after the Buncefield incident in 2005, but regulations are still in the works in the UK since nothing has been published yet.

Jim

COMAH - Buncefield: Why did it happen? - HSE http://www.hse.gov.uk/comah/buncefield/buncefield-report.pdf

Learning the Lessons from Buncefield
http://www.dsb.no/Global/Farlige%20stoffer/Dokumenter/Sevesokonferanse%202010/Sevesokonferansen%202010%20-%20Learning%20the%20lessons%20from%20Buncefield.pdf

My experience in the United States is with the Department of Homeland Security and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. To me risk based planning and assessment processes to not hold my confidence. Even probabilistic risk assessment methods, as employed here, seems both weak and unsubstantiated. To me, the practice is based on "expert judgment" which I interpret as someone, somewhere, is guessing and somehow this is codified and legitimatized. Unless, of course, there is someone higher up in the decision making process who disagrees with the expert judgment, for personal, political, or even professional reasons and decides to change that judgment, which in turn becomes codified and legitimatized.

For example, regardless of the probability, how many mega-quakes, like Yellowstone, are we willing to accept? Since the average frequency has been ~600,000 years between eruptions and the last one was 640,000 years ago, does that mean we should move out of the areas likely to be affected or what should those people living in the affected areas do? Mt. Fugi is another example. People in Japan have populated the hillsides of the volcano, and like Mt. St. Helens, Fugi will erupt certainly soon, in geologic time, but what should be done today?

In short, the only way to really have confidence in the guessing that goes into even the best risk assessments, users of those assessments cannot be allowed to use those assessments at a scale for which it is not intended. Determining risk values, as the U.S. Coast Guard and homeland security does, and quantifies the results at an interval scale, to my way of thinking, is taking 'judgment' too far.

I think I am alone at this thought. I also have not studied my objections enough to offer alternatives. I hope all this makes sense to you.

andy

-----Original Message-----

From: systemsafety-bounces_at_xxxxxx On Behalf Of James Ronback
Sent: Sunday, December 16, 2012 5:17 PM
To: systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Subject: [SystemSafety] Risk Based Planning and Assessment

Which countries have risk based planning and assessment processes that you would recommend or deprecate?

Jim Ronback, P. Eng. (System Safety Engineer - retired)



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