While natural hazards are the most common, there is also potential for man-made hazards to inflict damage to people, homes and buildings, causing psychological stress and resulting in significant economic loss.
New Zealand has a good aviation safety record.
There has not been a fatality in the commercial airlines sector since the 2004/5 year.
The safety performance of large airlines (counting for 96% of travel on New Zealand aircraft) is on a par with that of international counterparts.
The last accident at Invercargill airport was in 2006 and it involved a light aircraft.
Southland relies heavily economically and socially on its agricultural sector. A wide range of livestock (sheep, cattle, deer, pigs, goats) are farmed commercially across the region. Because of this, Southland is particularly vulnerable to a major outbreak of a disease affecting, or having the potential to affect, any of these livestock.
An epidemic is an outbreak of a contagious disease that spreads rapidly and within a particular region. The impacts of a disease outbreak could occur at local, regional or national level and may require a whole of government response supported by Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups. The consequences could include the destruction of animals or crops resulting in economic losses to agricultural businesses as well as exports to overseas markets, employment and businesses. There may also be restrictions on the movement of people, consideration required for the disposal of carcases with attendant land, air, and water pollutants.
An animal epidemic can also be caused by natural biological hazards.
The large geographical size of Southland gives rise to longer lengths of fibre optic cable and potential for more failures. The remoteness of a significant proportion of the population reliant on telecommunications adds to the seriousness of service failure.
Natural events or human error generally contribute to telecommunication failures e.g. bridge approaches being washed out, a person digging through a cable, cell phone tower damage, as in many cases the fibre optic cables are carried by pole or underground (often following roads or are on private property).
The lack of mobile phone coverage in some areas of Southland reduces communication options and this is put at further risk with a communication failure.
There are a number of knock-on effects with a communication failure, these include but are not limited to; inability to access assistance in an emergency or life-threatening situation, failure of river level and other monitoring systems, disruption to ATM, EFTPOS and banking/financial systems, the challenge to service companies to access some areas in adverse weather conditions to undertake repairs.
Computer systems network failure can be caused by such things as power cuts, viruses, or systems bugs e.g. Y2K, electromagnetic pulses, operating systems error, or by hackers.
Much of Southland's infrastructure and most businesses are reliant on effective operation of computer networks, and this dependency is increasing. Systems failure occurs on a small scale quite frequently.
There are a small number of larger structures that have been constructed for the control of river or lake flows. These are considered to have been appropriately designed and constructed and the risk of failure is considered to be low. The downstream consequence of a failure may however be significant.
A significant number of dams and ponds have been constructed for the purposes of sewage treatment, effluent containment, irrigation and sediment control. Suitability of the design and construction of most of these structures is unknown therefore the risk of failure is considered to be somewhat higher than our large structures, although the consequences of an individual failure would be lower.
Most dam failures occur within the first few years of construction. Poor foundation materials, poor dam drainage, and weak construction materials are three primary factors associated with dam failure in New Zealand.
Within both urban and rural Southland, a variety of hazardous substances are transported, stored or utilised. Accidental release of these substances can cause harm to the health and safety of any person or the environment.
A pandemic is an epidemic (a sudden outbreak) that becomes widespread and affects a whole region, a continent or in the most extreme circumstance, the world. Influenza is a major threat to public health worldwide because of its ability to spread rapidly through populations. Influenza pandemics are characterised by the global spread of a virus, and can cause unusually high morbidity and mortality for an extended period.
A pandemic can overwhelm the resources because of the potential for exceptional numbers to be affected. Three major influenza pandemics occurred in the 20th century, reaching New Zealand in 1918, 1957 and 1968. Both the Ministry of Health and the Southern District Health Board have invested in planning and preparedness, efficient disease surveillance systems, modern technology and increased public awareness which have reduced the consequence of this hazard. However pandemics still have the potential to involve a large number of people and manifest as a loss of human capability. Their ability to affect the normal function of society and the economy can indirectly lead to a subsequent deterioration of infrastructure services. The widespread nature of a pandemics impact could also affect the availability of assistance from other areas or sources.
What Should I do In A Pandemic?
Be Prepared! Read about What to Do In a Pandemic.
Infrastructure failure in the Southland region is not uncommon. Infrastructure failure may result from natural or technological hazards, or from failure due to human error, simple equipment failure, or poor maintenance. The risks of infrastructure failure can be significant. In the past 10 years the region has had a number of significant events, the majority were weather related - these include but are not limited to;
- March 2003 - Cloudburst
- July 2007 - Severe frosts
- October 2007 - Strong Winds with power outages
- January 2009 - Thunder and Lightning Storm
- Sept 2010 - Snow
- August 2011 - Snow and Black ice.
There has been a number of shipping incidents within the Southland waters and this continues to be a risk in our coastal region.
Marine / Port Incidents
The windy and changeable weather in Foveaux Strait, the steep coastline of western Fiordland and the rocky coastline in the south and east all offer their own challenges for emergency services dealing with a sea incident in these waters. The combination of ferries, larger numbers of cruise ships and water sightseeing trips operating in Southland as well as the increasing number of visitors to the region using these forms of transport adds to the level of risk this hazard presents.
The risk associated with large-scale vandalism or terrorism is variable, and depends upon what is targeted and how badly it is damaged. If terrorism in Southland was targeted at significant infrastructure providers or heavily relied upon systems, terrorism could have significant consequences.