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Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Probabilistic Safety Assessment & Management (PSAM)

Michael G. Stamatelatos
Michael G. Stamatelatos
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Harold S. Blackman
Harold S. Blackman
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ASME Press
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In Europe, an increasing number of road tunnels are realized. In 2002, 398 Trans European Network (TEN) tunnels existed, and between 2002 and 2010, additional 114 TEN road tunnels are realized [1]. Several of these tunnels cross national borders, such as the Mont Blanc (France-Italy) or the Fréjus (Spain-France). In particular the cross-border or trans-boundary aspect might hamper the emergency response actions in tunnels in case of an accident for example caused by language problems. Examples of these hampered actions concern the Mont Blanc tunnel inferno and the Eurotunnel fire. These accidents made clear that cross-border tunnels have peculiar aspects that make the rescue of people in the tunnel extra difficult including:

• language: are emergency responders from different countries able to communicate to each other? in which language are the tunnel-users informed and in which language are the contingency plans written?

• coordination: who communicates with whom?

• hierarchy: who is in charge in the emergency response operations?

• equipment: can equipment of one country's emergency responders be used at the other country's part of the tunnel?

• preparation: which scenarios form the base for emergency response preparation and how do the emergency responders conduct their training exercises?

The EU recognized such issues and aimed at harmonizing the various procedures and appointments in the EU countries [1]. The EU stated:

Insufficient co-ordination has been identified as a contributory factor to accidents in trans-boundary tunnels. Moreover, recent accidents show that non-native users are at greater risk of becoming a victim in an accident, due to the lack of harmonisation of safety information, communication and equipment”.

To harmonize the cross-border aspects of tunnel emergency response actions, and part of a broader European Union program, called SafeT, Nibra studied typical cross-border intervention aspects and formulated guidelines for harmonization. Literature study and case studies of the Mont Blanc and the Eurotunnel revealed the elementary cross-border aspects that hampered tunnel emergency response actions. A study of operational tunnel procedures of the Fréjus (France and Spain), Chunnel (France and United Kingdom), Öresund (Denmark and Sweden) and Karawanken (Austria and Slovenia) revealed multiple solutions to deal with various cross-border aspects. In the end, fourteen guidelines resulted.

Because the guidelines not only concern language issues but also coordination, organization, training and liability issues, such guidelines can be useful for all tunnels crossing any administrative border where multiple emergency response organizations are responsible for fighting accident consequences.

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