General Market

Written question – Turkish provocation following the devastating earthquake in the Aegean – E-004050/2017

On Wednesday, 14 June 2017, in violation of international regulations and international law, Turkey issued Navtex 613/17, announcing that it intended to reserve a specific area extending 10 nautical miles off the west coast of Lesbos in order to practice drills with live ammunition in that part of the Aegean. The island of Lesbos has, of course, recently been struck by a devastating earthquake.

Turkey is once again challenging Greek sovereign rights in the Aegean — on this occasion just a few hours after the abovementioned earthquake in the area.

Given that this act of Turkish provocation is yet another indication of Turkey’s contempt for the rules of international law and European institutions and a violation of the sovereign rights of an EU Member State, at a time when a state of emergency has been declared in the municipality of Lesbos, will the Commission say:

What immediate action will it take in response to this unacceptable act of provocation by Turkey, coming, as it does, one day after the powerful earthquake?

General Government

USGS, DoD partner in preparing for major natural disasters

Disaster preparationsUSGS, DoD partner in preparing for major natural disasters

Published 5 December 2016

In 2003, USGS partnered with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) – U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) to establish a liaison between the two organizations to facilitate science support in the event of a major natural disaster. The USGS liaison coordinates requests for science information and expertise, and general civil support and humanitarian assistance activities. This science support enables USNORTHCOM to perform critical national defense and civil support missions, as well as understand the impacts of natural disasters.

USGS has many partnerships, both foreign and domestic, that enhance the agency’s science capabilities, provide needed support to others, and expand USGS ability to serve the global community. One little-known partnership that serves both foreign and domestic needs is the USGS science support to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) – U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM).  

In 2003, USGS partnered with USNORTHCOM to establish a liaison between the two organizations to facilitate science support in the event of a major natural disaster. The USGS liaison coordinates requests for science information and expertise, and general civil support and humanitarian assistance activities. This science support enables USNORTHCOM to perform critical national defense and civil support missions, as well as understand the impacts of natural disasters.

Prompted by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on American soil, the USNORTHCOM mission is to deter, prevent, and defeat threats and aggression aimed at the United States, its territories, and interests, drawing on the full capabilities of all U.S. military services, including the National Guard and Coast Guard. USNORTHCOM’s geographic area of responsibility includes the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico, the Gulf of Mexico, the Straits of Florida, and portions of the Caribbean region to include The Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

USGS notes that USNORTHCOM’s mission also includes domestic disaster relief operations that occur during fires, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes when an emergency exceeds the capabilities of local, state and federal agencies. In most cases, support will be limited, localized and specific. When the scope of the disaster is reduced and civilian agencies can again assume full control and management without military assistance, USNORTHCOM will exit.

To respond to disasters of such magnitude, USNORTHCOM needs access to the best available science, tools and technologies to assess the extent of damage, as well as evaluate additional impacts and to identify areas where future disasters could impact life and property. The USGS is poised to provide this science to monitor, assess, and conduct targeted research on a wide range of natural hazards to provide the information needed to enhance preparedness, response, and resilience. The following products, programs, and coordination are a few examples of the support provided by the USGS to USNORTHCOM.

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General Information

Build disaster-proof homes before storms strike, not afterward

ResilienceBuild disaster-proof homes before storms strike, not afterward

By T. Reed Miller

Published 8 August 2016

There are many technologies we can use to make our buildings more hazard-resistant. But we are not using them as extensively as we should. Instead of designing a building to reduce potential damage from the hazards it may face over its lifetime, most construction projects focus on saving money up front. By choosing the lowest construction cost possible, homeowners, insurance agencies, and taxpayers may end up paying for it many times over when natural disasters occur. To prevent the devastation from another storm, twister, or quake, we need to make deep investments nationwide in mitigation now, before the next disaster strikes.

On Breezy Point in Queens, New York, construction will start soon on Diane Hellreigel’s new house. Dubbed the #HurricaneStrong Home, it will replace a house built in 1955 by Hellriegel’s grandfather that was wrecked during Superstorm Sandy in the fall of 2012.

The demonstration home was designed by private companies working with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, or FLASH, a nonprofit coalition that promotes action to strengthen homes and prepare for disasters. It features a solid concrete foundation that elevates the living space above floods, and uses energy-efficient insulated concrete form (ICF) for the walls and floors designed to withstand wind and blown debris.

The roof deck of the demonstration home uses principles from the Fortified Home standards, a set of national guidelines designed to improve on minimum building codes and make structures more disaster-proof. They include taped plywood seams to prevent water entry, and reinforcing spray foam insulation underneath the roof to help keep wind from blowing it off and also improve energy efficiency.

Projects like the #HurricaneStrong Home demonstrate that there are many technologies we can use to make our buildings more hazard-resistant. But we are not using them as extensively as we should. Instead of designing a building to reduce potential damage from the hazards it may face over its lifetime, most construction projects focus on saving money up front. By choosing the lowest construction cost possible, homeowners, insurance agencies, and taxpayers may end up paying for it many times over when natural disasters occur.

Forecasting storms and mitigating damage
Although we cannot always predict far in advance when a disaster will strike, we do know that climate change will result in more frequent and intense storms than in the past. Hazard modeling has progressed considerably over the past several decades, and we can make strong predictions of roughly how often to expect disasters from coast to coast.

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General Government

Chile quake information expands disaster and failure data repository

EarthquakesChile quake information expands disaster and failure data repository

Published 3 May 2016

27 February 2010, is a date that most Chileans will probably never forget. On that day, the sixth strongest earthquake in recorded history — packing a force greater than the most powerful thermonuclear device ever tested — occurred off the country’s central coast. Now, thanks to a newly available set of data collected in the aftermath of the disaster, NIST is providing Chile and other quake-prone areas worldwide with a powerful tool toward becoming more resilient to future seismic events.

A hospital volunteer with the quake’s destruction in the background // Source: commons.wikimedia.org

27 February 2010, is a date that most Chileans will probably never forget. On that day, the sixth strongest earthquake in recorded history — packing a force greater than the most powerful thermonuclear device ever tested — occurred off the country’s central coast. Now, thanks to a newly available set of data collected in the aftermath of the disaster, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is providing Chile and other quake-prone areas worldwide with a powerful tool toward becoming more resilient to future seismic events.

The massive shockwaves and accompanying tsunami of the 2010 Maule, Chile, earthquake (magnitude 8.8) killed more than 300 people, affected nearly 2 million others, and damaged or destroyed approximately half a million homes, schools, hospitals and other buildings. Following the event, an interdisciplinary team of researchers, including a NIST engineer, documented the devastation and chronicled the response of hundreds of structures. The comprehensive collectionof this valuable information, the newest addition to the NIST Disaster and Failure Studies Data Repository, is now accessible at https://disasterhub.nist.gov.

NIST says that the repository was established in 2011to provide a place where data collected during and after a major disaster or structural failure, as well as data generated from related research, could be organized and maintained to facilitate study, analysis and comparison with future events. Eventually, NIST hopes that the repository will serve as a national archival database where other organizations can store the research, findings and outcomes of their disaster and failure studies.

Initially, the NIST Disaster and Failure Studies Data Repository was established to house data from the agency’s six-year investigationof the collapses of three buildings at New York City’s World Trade Center (WTC 1, 2 and 7) as a result of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. With the addition of the 2010 Chile earthquake dataset, NIST is broadening the scope of the repository to begin making it a larger collection of information on hazard events such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, windstorms, community-scale fires in the wildland urban interface, storm surges and man-made disasters (accidental, criminal or terrorist).

As detailed in an accompanying guide, NIST Disaster and Failure Studies Data Repository: The Chile Earthquake Database—Ground Motion and Building Performance Data from the 2010 Chile Earthquake — User Manual(NIST GCR 15-1008), the new collection contains tabular data on ground motion, damage and structural properties, as well as nearly 25,000 photographs and drawings, for 273 buildings and structures impacted by the 2010 Maule, Chile, quake, and for comparison, their response to the 1985 quake centered offshore of Valparaíso, Chile, 370 kilometers (230 miles) to the north.

“Users can search the database by building names, design features, construction types, and uses and occupancies,” says Long Phan, acting director of the NIST Disaster and Failure Studies Program.

Next to be added to the repository will be data from the NIST investigation of the impacts of the 22 May 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, and the NIST report that documents impacts of the May 20, 2013, tornado in the Newcastle-Moore area of Oklahoma.

NIST says that by making the data available online, it hopes to support the development of standards, codes, practices and new technologies that improve community resilience against the threat of disasters. As the repository grows, it will include data on significant hazard events; how buildings and other structures performed during those events; associated emergency response and evacuation procedures; and the technical, social and economic factors that affect pre-disaster mitigation activities and post-disaster response efforts.

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