West Lafayette, Ind. (UPI) Jan 31, 2011
A new approach is needed to prevent "systematic failures" in complex systems involved in disasters like power blackouts and oil spills, a U.S. researcher says.
A Purdue University professor of chemical engineering says a cross-disciplinary approach is needed involving public policy experts so that scientific and engineering lessons learned from major disasters like the BP Deepwater Horizon spill or the 1984 Union Carbide chemical accident in Bhopal, India, which killed more than 2,000, get translated into effective policies and regulations, a university release said Monday.
"The striking similarities in such catastrophes necessitates a broader perspective to better understand such failures," Venkat Venkatasubramanian says. "In the history of systemic failures, a few disasters have served as wake-up calls."
As examples Venkatasubramanian cites the Flixborough chemical plant explosion in Britain in 1974 that killed 26 people, and the 1988 failure of an oil platform in the North Sea, which led to in 167 deaths and about $2 billion in losses.
"Such systemic failures are not limited to the chemical and petrochemical industries," he says.
"Typically, systemic failures occur due to fragility in complex systems," Venkatasubramanian says. "Modern technological advances are creating a rapidly increasing number of complex engineered systems, processes and products, which pose considerable challenges in ensuring their proper design, analysis, control, safety and management for successful operation over their life cycles."
The scale and complexity of interactions between elements, including people, in such systems-of-systems make them fragile, he says.
Investigations have shown that major disasters rarely occur due to a single failure of equipment or personnel.
Instead, layers of failures of equipment, systems, processes, regulations and people usually are at fault, he says.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes
Australia flags taxpayer levy for floods
Sydney (AFP) Jan 21, 2011
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard Friday raised the prospect of a one-off tax to pay for rebuilding after epic floods, as rising waters prompted more evacuations in the southeast. Crops, roads and railway lines were washed away and thousands of homes destroyed by vast floods that swamped Queensland state this month in what the government has said could be the nation's most costly natur ... read more
Study: Pakistan floods were predictable|
Better study of disaster causes urged
Australia flags taxpayer levy for floods
Clinton visits quake-hit Haiti as new vote looms
Google offers Street View art gallery tours
Murdoch's iPad newspaper launches Wednesday
Mobile 'apps' to be $58 billion market: study
Electronic Arts sees bright digital future despite loss
Brazil going ahead with 'monster dam'
Precise Way To Monitor Ocean Wave Behavior And Shore Impacts
Study Finds Common Ground For Ecosystems And Fishing In Northwest Mexico
Fish consumption at all time high, says UN agency
VIMS Team Glides Into Polar Research
'Hidden Plumbing' Helps Slow Greenland Ice Flow
Study alters Greenland glacier melt view
Scientists Find That Debris On Certain Himalayan Glaciers May Prevent Melting
India's crops affected by erratic climate
Plant gene work could benefit food crops
China goes rabbit-crazy for Lunar New Year
Notre Dame Biologists Call For Regulation Of Rare Plant Sales
Hundreds evacuate as Japan volcano erupts
Australia dodges cyclone 'bullet', but worse feared
Australia cyclone upgraded to top threat level
Japan volcano blast smashes windows
China says Sudan referendum a step towards peace
Sudan recognises landslide vote for indepedent south
Nigeria religious war boosts poll tensions
North Africa faces 'demographic tsunami': Bildt
Mathematical Model Explains How Complex Societies Emerge And Collapse
Modern Humans Reached Arabia Earlier Than Thought
Date of humans out of Africa pushed back
Indonesia arrests suspect in asylum deaths
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|