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Yearly Archives: 2013

Risky Bites: Fukushima, is fear the real risk?

VOA Herman - April 13 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant-03Two new international and independent reports have been released on the health impacts of the Fukushima nuclear accident. They’ve found that there have been few health impacts on the workers in the plant and emergency responders. More importantly they’ve found that there are unlikely to be any attributable long term health impacts on the general population. As the Sydney Morning Herald article says: “This “perfect storm” hit a nuclear plant built to a 50-year-old design and no one died.”

Nevertheless, there’s been significant fallout (pun intended) in terms of the nuclear power industry in Japan and abroad. Japan has struggled to generate electricity over the last two years and public opinion on nuclear power has reached new lows. The psychological impacts cannot also be discounted for millions in the area and further afield. The report even found that many deaths were associated with the stress of the evacuation. In areas that weren’t highly exposed to radiation people may have been better off staying.

So here’s my question: is the fear of a nuclear accident a bigger risk than the risk of an accident itself?

Risky Bites: Radios and Airport Ground Crew

Safe Skies 2011 - ground crew
Welcome to Risky Bites – a new series on the blog that will take a short form and seek reader input.

Anyone who regularly flies in Australia will often get the announcement from cabin crew to “… as we will be refueling, please switch off your mobile phone whilst on the tarmac..”. We know that the risk of a mobile phone causing an explosion is vanishingly small, if it’s even possible. But I always see ground crew using radios, which makes me wonder:

Are the radios that are used by airport ground crew intrinsically safe?

If you know, please chime in in the comments.

Introducing Casus Calamitas Consulting

If you frequent this blog you will have noticed a slight change of format. This is the soft launch of my new business – Casus Calamitas Consulting.

In this business I aim to continue what I’ve started in this blog – covering difficult topics and research to inform the emergency management community. Casus Calamitas Consulting bridges the gap between research and practice, helping organisations process complex information into sound emergency management.

Please check out the new sections of the website or get in touch if you are interested in the services I provide.

In other news I will be starting a PhD in Risk and Emergency Management at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Pavia, Italy in September.

Budget 2013-14: A disaster wrap-up

Today the Federal Government released its election year budget. Whilst most folk are talking deficits, loss of entitlements and so forth I’ll focus on disasters of a different sort.

Though the Federal Government does do a lot of counter-disaster work through its agencies (such as the Attorney General’s Department, Bureau of Meteorology, Department of Defence and Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) they don’t appear to have any new expenditure items this year, or significant cuts. This leaves the money provided to the states and territories for mitigation and recovery (contained in Budget Paper 3). (more…)

Defence White Paper – A disaster focus?

Today the Federal Government released a new Defence White Paper. Given all the discussion about the use of the ADF in disaster operations I thought I’d given it a review from a disaster and humanitarian response perspective.

The new paper contains 26 references to disaster operations, down from 31 references in the 2009 White Paper.

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NSW Planning White Paper Released

Today the NSW Government released its planning white paper. Reforming the planning system was one of the election policies of the O’Farrell Government. I feel that a lot of the discussion about ‘resilience’ are thinly veiled distractions from what we know works best – not building stuff in harm’s way.

I’ll be leafing through it and posting my thoughts (and perhaps making a submission), but at 214 pages it’s going to take me a while.

The closing date for submissions is the 28th of June, so if you’re thinking about making one get cracking. There’s a variety of other consultative mechanisms including a series of discussion forums.

Factcheck: Increasing community demand?

After every emergency and whenever the media, and many emergency managers, are talking about emergency service response the claim of ’emergency services are under increasing demand’ is oft repeated. It’s very tempting to believe that there is an increasing demand on emergency services, with the increased resources that such a trend can bring, but what do the numbers say.

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Update on the Climate Change and Emergency Preparedness Senate Inquiry

Well it’s been two months since I posted my last update and the Climate Change and Emergency Preparedness Inquiry is in full swing. As I suspected the reporting date has been extended to the 26th of June (and even that date is still rather ambitious). There are now 338 submissions (most of the new ones being from individuals) and hearings have been held in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth (the transcripts are available online). Hearings in Sydney and Canberra are scheduled for the next couple of days. I have only skimmed through the content of the hearings and there’s some interesting reading, but I’ll leave it to the inquiry to sum them up in its report.

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Extreme weather. Extreme planning. Extremely necessary?

In a piece published in the SMH yesterday Anthony Bergin, Director of Research Programs at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, argues that climate change will require greater preparedness for our emergency services. That doesn’t necessarily need to be the case.

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Global warming halted? A load of hot air.

Climate change is a big topic in disaster management. I have earlier outlined that claims of a big impact on severe weather by climate change (at least presently) are largely overblown. As a broader risk management issue climate change is a big one.

If left unchecked, climate change could have some huge, civilisation altering, consequences over the next couple of hundred years. This is a big risk for humankind and possibly the largest over a timescale of 100-300 years.

Which is why it really gets my goat to hear claims that the warming has stopped.

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