Facility Disaster Planning Highlighted By Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant
When the massive earthquake and accompanying tsunami hit Japan last year, people around world watched as a potentially history-making crisis unfolded before us. The Fukushima nuclear power plant had been built to withstand just such an event. However, some of the ancillary systems weren’t, resulting in a loss of power to the pumps that helped cool the reactors.
Records show that as early as 2007, an in-house study indicated that the plant was vulnerable to tsunami waves. These concerns were considered “unrealistic” by company officials. They should have used the outcome of this analysis to update their disaster plan. Instead, they were left with a mess that experts have projected will take 40 years to clean up. The manpower and equipment necessary to accomplish this is staggering. Workers with HEPA vacuums will be a familiar sight at the facility for years. As an aside, did you know that HEPA filters were originally developed in the ’40s for use in the Manhattan Project?
While your disaster plans might not be on that scale, they are becoming more critical with each passing year. As technology improves, more responsibilities are automated, and equipment becomes more complex. That means the potential for system failure becomes greater. The impact on your facility and operations could be financially devastating.
Most facilities have disaster plans, however many are just one-size fits all procedures. That type of plan basically says, “if there’s a disaster this is what we’ll do.” The problem is that not every disaster is the same, nor will it even effect facilities in the same industries the same way. There are many factors such as location, size, resources, and time of year that have to be taken into account.
The first step is to undertake a vulnerability analysis. Make a list of things that could seriously impact your facility. Focus on the the top 10, and develop a plan to deal with each one. When I was a healthcare facility manager, our hospital was less than 10 miles from the coast. Number one on our list of disasters was a hurricane. Our problem was compounded by the fact that we had to have a plan in place that would allow us to stay open and provide services to the community even during a major storm.
Reassess your plans minimally every three years. Focus on a third of them each year so you don’t have a big pile to look at all at once. Review them to see what things have changed and how the changes impact the plan since you last reviewed it.
Finally, conduct a drill, even if it’s just at a table with the key stakeholders. Have someone take notes, and have a discussion afterward, then revisit the plan. Remember in the case of disaster, you should look outside your facility for answers. Community resources and vendors can help you overcome issues that can’t be solved internally.
Here are some additional HVAC tips you may consider in 2012:
- Check out our learning center on how best to maintain all your facility’s existing equipment.
- Subscribe to our blog to get the latest HVAC maintenance news and insight.
- Stay up to date on facility maintenance tools such as chiller tube cleaners,boiler tube cleaners, hose/pipe cleaners,descaler systems,test instruments,industrial vacuums,commercial pressure washers, and drain cleaners.
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