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Measuring the destruction and recuperation of the natural gas pipeline system at Oregon’s Critical Energy Infrastructure Hub

Barbara Payne, MPA


Portland has become a hot spot for geological discussions over the last few years. The event that has everyone talking, and preparing for, is the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.

Cascadia is categorized as a catastrophic natural, seismic event, where the Juan De Fuca plate and the North American plate subduct off the Northwest coast, causing a violent response in the zone between the two plates. Geological history has shown us that every 200- 300 years, a major seismic event occurs in this area of the Pacific; in current disaster discussions in the emergency management industry, where this author has resided for the last 6 years, it is not a matter of if, but a matter of when. The Cascadia event will cause a massive earthquake, affecting millions of lives and costing just as much if not more.

Currently, there is no model that exists to equate for all of the following: damages to pipes, restoration, and disruption, and maximum thresholds for utility usage. The models and plans discussed in this paper will cast a needed spotlight for establishing a new model combining these elements and more.

It is vital that efforts be made to calculate, beyond a base percentage rate of recovery, what Oregon and the region will lose and what it will take regain a “back to business” level of operations, economically, structurally, and environmentally. Many calls were placed with nonprofit energy stewards to determine these statistics, but no current information was available, or easy to attain, further emphasizing a need for real-time utility data.



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