Clean-up of urban areas after volcanic eruptions


A ubiquitous challenge of disaster response and recovery is managing disaster waste. Past volcanic related disasters have demonstrated that these events can create enormous volumes of different types of waste, at times overwhelming existing solid waste management systems. Despite this, disaster waste management is rarely planned prior to a disaster. When disaster waste planning is (exceptionally) conducted, volcanic hazards are often omitted – we suspect because disaster waste management is generally absent from volcanic impact and risk assessments. This omission is problematic as volcanic hazards can present unique challenges that other natural hazards (e.g. earthquake, hurricane, flooding) are unlikely to exhibit. For example, a common strategy is to simply remove hazard-related material, yet the insulating properties of lava mean it can take months to years for lava flows to completely cool down. Consequently, removal may need to be delayed or not undertaken at all. Additionally, uncertainty associated with whether an eruption is over means there can be a substantial amount of time before it is deemed sufficiently safe for personnel to enter a heavily damaged area to begin clean-up operations. Here, we present a multi-volcanic hazard assessment approach to identifying the effects of volcanic hazards on disaster waste management systems. We use case studies to explore these effects and develop a suite of semi-quantitative indicators to assist post-disaster clean-up decision-making. We demonstrate how these indicators can be used by applying them to Auckland Volcanic Field eruption scenarios for the city of Auckland, New Zealand to assess implications for disaster waste management systems. Our work will be beneficial for risk-reduction, emergency response and recovery managers to understand clean-up and restoration requirements for urban areas affected by volcanism.