An environmental emergency is an unexpected onset of a disaster or an accident as a result of natural, technological or human-induced factors that cause – or threaten to cause – severe environmental damage. People’s health, livelihoods and property are often endangered at the same time. Environmental emergencies can also represent ‘secondary risks’: natural and complex emergencies can damage infrastructure and industrial installations. This in turn may affect the environment, as well as the health and safety of the population and emergency workers. It endangers not only the environment, but threatens to feed back into a worse humanitarian disaster.

There are three main types of environmental emergency –

1)  Technological or man-made disasters usually resulting from an industrial accident;

2)  Natural disasters caused by elements such as earthquakes, floods and fires; and

3)  Complex emergencies resulting from conflict and war.

The following is a list of some emergencies, which may be covered as events warrant:

  1. Blizzards
  2. Chemical spills
  3. Dam failure
  4. Droughts
  5. Earthquake
  6. Extreme heat waves
  7. Fire
  8. Floods
  9. Hurricanes
  10. Pandemics
  11. Terrorist attacks
  12. Thunder storms
  13. Tornadoes

Types of Environmental Emergencies 2

Briefly let’s discuss the common ones

 Chemical spills: In large plants, chemicals storage, handling and loading/unloading are routine, as they are often used in the production process or as input for the equipment. Flammable, combustible and corrosive liquids, as well as flammable and toxic gases, are very common in these places and a simple accident can result in explosions or start fires in the premises.

This is a discharge of chemical substances from a container or building which enters the natural environment (Air, Water & Land). The following are examples: Spill of gasoline in parking area, Broken bottle of chemicals in Lab, Freon leak from chiller, Leaking storage tank, Excessive fumes in a lab being vented through a fume hood

Dam failure: the sudden, rapid, and uncontrolled release of impounded water or the likelihood of such an uncontrolled release mostly caused by substandard material used for construction or overburden. Droughts: is an event of prolonged shortages in the water supply, whether atmospheric (below-average precipitation), surface water or ground water.

Earthquake: is the shaking of the surface of the Earth resulting from a sudden release of energy in the Earth’s lithosphere this creates seismic waves. Earthquakes can range in size from those that are so weak that they cannot be felt to those violent enough to propel objects and people into the air, and wreak destruction across Fire outbreak: This is a sudden out bust of fire caused careless handling of explosive.