Hazardous Materials in Earthquakes

As our metropolitan areas grow, more people live and work near industrial and commercial facilities with hazardous materials. Hazardous materials releases occur even in smaller earthquakes of magnitude 5 or 6. However, the number of these problems, and the size of the area affected, increases dramatically for larger earthquakes and for earthquakes in urban areas. The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake caused spills from southern Monterey to Napa counties.

Background Information

Summarized from Hazardous Materials Problems in Earthquakes, ABAG 1990. – Purchase Report
What are hazardous materials?
Are hazardous materials located in retail or commercial areas?
What earthquake hazards trigger hazmat releases?
What types of damage cause hazmat releases?
What factors complicate our ability to respond to these releases?
What are the key conclusions?

What can I do about it?

Local Governments

The research effort that forms the basis for this information was funded by the National Science Foundation’s Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors of these reports and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agencies.

Last updated: 09.22.2010