Los Angeles Harbor Area Hazard Analysis

Created for COPE Preparedness “Opening the Dialogue” Preparedness Summit April 4, 2009
Hazard Identification In looking at the communities we live in, we could probably tell that some hazards are possible while others would seldom or never occur. It is important when identifying possible
disasters that we rely on more than opinion. When conducting a risk analysis of a particular area, we look at its history of disasters and major emergencies. This historical research provides empirical data that can help in determining statistical likelihood, high-low risk, and high-low consequence estimates. This information is then gauged  against new changes in area demographics and evolving threats. These changes can exacerbate or create new disaster impacts.
This is the process by which the City of Los Angeles identifies area risks and develops its Local Hazard Mitigation Plan. The plan addresses existing through proposed mitigation policies, programs, and projects. For an extensive identification of the high-risk, moderate-risk, and low-risk hazards that threaten the City and their corresponding mitigation efforts, refer to the following Emergency
Management Department website. http://www.lacity.org/emd/LHMP.htm
A pandemic influenza is a worldwide outbreak of a new flu virus for which there is little or no immunity. Experts predict an infection rate of 25-50% of the population, depending on the strain severity. Compare that to the rate of 5-20% for annual flu outbreaks. In contrast to regular seasonal influenza outbreaks, pandemics occur irregularly, with the 1918 Spanish flu the most serious in recent history. Pandemics can cause high levels of mortality. The Spanish influenza was responsible for the deaths of over 50 million people. Most recent pandemics were the Asian Flu in 1957 and the Hong Kong Flu in 1968. An average
of three pandemics occur each century. A fact you may not know is that seasonal flu/cold outbreaks kill more people each year than all the earthquakes combined throughout history. You can find information on the steps you can take to prepare for seasonal outbreaks and pandemic influenza on the following websites.
For general public health information:
For pandemic flu information:
Earthquake Seismic events present the most widespread threat of devastation to life and property in the City. The City’s Hazard Mitigation Plan Advisory Task Force considers this as the highest-risk natural disaster for Los Angeles. With an earthquake, unlike fire and flood, containment of potential damage is not feasible. Quake damages and related hazard events may be widespread and at present,
are unpredictable. Fire and consequent hazards resulting from damage to reservoirs, dams, chemical/gas storage facilities, and critical infrastructure will be potential risks in a catastrophic earthquake. Since 1800 there have been approximately 60 damaging seismic events in the Los Angeles area. There are a number of faults throughout the Harbor and surrounding communities. These are listed below and shown in figure 1.
1. Newport-Inglewood Fault
2. Palos Verdes Fault
3. Cabrillo Fault
4. Catalina Fault
5. Santa Monica Fault
6. San Clemente Fault
7. Channel Islands Fault
8. Rose Canyon Fault
9. Malibu Coast Fault
10. Santa Cruz Fault
Figure 1
Information on earthquake seismology and fault hazards can be found on the following website.
For information on the upcoming October 2009 statewide earthquake drill, look for announcements on the following website.
The Harbor may be threatened by Pacific storms which bring in severe rain, thunder, and lightning along with possible flooding. While this is not the greatest threat the port faces, storms are not uncommon. For the most part, storms are confined to specific times of the year and are fairly predictable. That said, some of the storms that have effected the Harbor area in recent history, such as the winter of 2004, have been severe (in local terms) but minimal in damage. The Port of Los Angeles is not located in a region that is prone to, or likely to support a hurricane. The primary vulnerabilities of storms, center on water and wind.
The City terrain can be classified as 75 percent alluvial plain and 25 percent rugged canyons/hills. Elevations range from 5,074 feet at Sister Elsie Peak in San Gabriel Mountains to nearly mean sea level in the
southwestern part of the City. With the cooperation of City, County, and Federal agencies, Los Angeles has an extensive drainage system to protect its citizens. The primary agencies that share flood control
responsibilities within the City of Los Angeles are the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps), the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, the City of Los Angeles, and Caltrans. Each agency exercises jurisdiction over the flood control facilities they own and operate. Typically, City and County storm drains are designed to carry flow from a 10-year storm within the pipe system. Streets
and gutters are also considered part of the storm drain system. The combination of storm drain pipe and street (curb to curb) typically provides capacity for a 25-year storm. Army corps facilities are typically designed for a 100-year storm. For more information refer to the following City website:
For U.S. Army Corps of Engineering info:
Across the Southern California region, widespread green-up is occurring among the light, flashy fuels (hillside brush). The good news for the short term, is this will result in moisture values continuing to rise in  live fuel sources. Dead fuel (dead brush) moisture values will continue to fluctuate based upon current meteorological conditions, but remain relatively dry for this time of year. Fuel moistures are predicted
to continue to rise during the spring months. As moisture levels drop and the summer months begin, this hazard risk facing the Southern California region, increases.

The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) supplies water to Southern California with imported and local drinkable water. Although the main sources of water are imported, local water sources require less energy to obtain, and improve the sustainable supply of water. Local supplies primarily come from underground aquifers supplemented by recycled water. These alternative sources help reduce the amount of
imported water, which takes a significant amount of energy to bring into the region. As depicted in Figure 3, severe drought conditions currently exist over much of Southern and Central California due to a multiyear drought. Rainfall levels in Southern California are running at about 80% to just under 100% of normal levels. Another concern adding to the picture of future drought impacts, is statewide
snow packs are at only 71% of norm.
Figure 3
With current water levels the way they are it is  questionable as to how much relief will occur over the upcoming spring season. Plans are in progress to import more water from other areas, possibly Northern California to Metropolitan Water District reservoirs,  via the California Aqueduct. The California Inland Feeder Project will add a direct tunnel and pipeline connection and is scheduled for completion in 2010. Additional Southern California drought information is available at: http://drought.unl.edu/DM/MONITOR.HTML
Based on historical records, the probability of a tsunami striking the City’s coastal area is a very low threat. However, from a geological perspective the historic record is very short. See Table 1 below.
Table 1:Tsunami Events in California 1930-2004
• Maximum Run-Up (M)-The maximum water height above sea level in meters. Source: Worldwide Tsunami Database www.ngdc.noaa.gov
Recent studies of nearby offshore faults and marine landslide potential indicates this type of event still poses a risk. In general, tsunamis may be generated by sea flood faulting or marine landslides. Scientists can predict when a tsunami will arrive at various places by knowing the source characteristics of the earthquake or marine landslide that generated the tsunami. Tsunamis travel much slower in more
shallow coastal waters where their wave heights begin to increase dramatically, see figure 4.
Figure 4
Figure 5 depicts generation source of the three kinds of tsunami hazards: transoceanic tsunamis, local earthquake tsunamis, and local landslide tsunamis.
Figure 5
Date Location Maximum Run up* (m)
08/31/1930 Redondo Beach 6.10 5.2
08/31/1930 Santa Monica 6.10 5.2
08/31/1930 Venice 6.10 5.2
03/11/1933 La Jolla 0.10 6.3
03/11/1933 Long Beach 0.10 6.3
08/21/1934 Newport Beach 12.00 Unknown
02/09/1941 San Diego Unknown 6.6
10/18/1989 Monterey 0.40 7.1
10/18/1989 Moss Landing 1.00 7.1
10/18/1989 Santa Cruz 0.10 7.1
04/25/1992 Arena Cove 0.10 7.1
04/25/1992 Monterey 0.10 7.1
09/01/1994 Crescent City 0.14 7.1
11/04/2000 Point Arguello 5.0
The following scenarios satisfy a number of
important criteria for study. See figure 6.
a. Palos Verdes Landslide
b. Catalina Landslide
c. Newport-Inglewood Fault
d. Catalina Fault
Figure 6
The scenarios include two landslide tsunamis and two earthquake tsunamis. Tsunami waves from these scenarios will approach the Harbor area from different directions, with different wavelengths, some of which may resonate within the Ports. These four events are of definite interest, based on recent research activities. All the above scenarios would have tsunami amplitudes less than or equal to 3.0 meters (approx. 9’) There is of course, no guarantee that the next local tsunami within San Pedro Basin will consist of any of these four events. Instead, these scenarios fill in a gap in the current understanding of potential tsunamis impacts in the port area. For more information on Tsunami risk in the City of Loa Angeles and current mitigation efforts refer to the following website.
Since September 11, 2001, national security efforts have focused on key critical infrastructure, that present plausible targets for a terrorist attack. It goes without saying that prime targets are government  facilities, world trade businesses, and vital economic transportation centers. The Port of Los Angeles has all of these attractive targets, which could be a focus of interest to terrorist groups around the world.
While a conventional attack using explosive devices has been the terrorists’ weapon of choice domestically, intelligence sources report that this may change in the future. The use of explosives to cause massive destruction and to instill fear in the public may be evolving in sophistication toward the use of exotic biological, chemical, or radiological materials. The United States national threat level is currently at Elevated, or Yellow. For all domestic and international flights, the national  threat level is High, or Orange. There is no specific intelligence at this time, indicating any imminent threats to the port area. Information on national threat levels and citizen preparedness can be found at the Department of Homeland Security website. www.dhs.gov
A release of a hazardous material; chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear or explosive (CBRNE) can result from an accidental release following an industrial incident such as a refinery malfunction, an accidental discharge from a storage tank/rail car derailment, or a transporting tank truck accident/leak. As the leading seaport in North America in terms of shipping container volume and cargo value, the Port generates 919,000 regional jobs and $39.1 billion in annual wages/tax revenues. The diversity of inbound cargo ships, industry, and refineries both in the port and in adjacent communities presents a range of HazMat risks. Large refineries operate in Wilmington and Carson, which combined can process about 120,000 barrels of oil a day. Refinery capacity is a limiting factor affecting the amount of crude oil imported through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Although no new refineries have been built in the area in a number of years, improvements in refinery technology and/or expansion of existing refineries have in some cases increased refinery capacity.
Civil Unrest
The entire City of Los Angeles is vulnerable to civil unrest. There are no specific hazard zones that can be identified or predicted. Civil unrest may result from a wide variety of causes, ranging from local to international. While it is not possible to make long term predictions of civil unrest events, it is highly probable that such events will occur in the City from time to time. Historical data from the 1992 Los Angeles  Civil unrest in figure 7, shows buildings throughout the City that were 50% destroyed or designated unsafe due to collateral damage during the unrest. Figure 7
Aircraft Accident
In the port environment, the threat of an airplane crashing, is mostly a localized one that may affect a small area. The threat is two fold; damage from the aircraft as it comes in contact with grounded objects and the possibility of a resultant fire. A fire that is a result of an aircraft crash may be accelerated or worsened by any jet or aircraft fuel that is aboard the aircraft. The January 2000 crash of Alaska Air Flight 261
is the most recent commercial aircraft crash in Southern California, and while tragic, the event occurred offshore and no damage or loss of life occurred onshore. The two highest threats come from commercial
aircraft departing Long Beach Airport, and the many small helicopters flying in the port area.
Global Warming
From agricultural losses to devastation wrought by wildfires to flooding at ports, impacts to California due to global warming are expected to be significant. One assessment of future flood risk, with a projected sea level rise by the year 2100, shows significant flooding is possible at California’s ports in Oakland, Los Angeles, and Long Beach. Coastal Erosion Coastal erosion is generally associated with storm surges,  hurricanes, windstorms, and flooding hazards. These can be exacerbated by human activities such as construction of seawalls, jetties, navigation inlets, boat wakes, dredging and other interruption of physical processes. Coastal erosion is measured as the rate of change in the position or horizontal displacement of a shoreline over a period of time. Long term coastal erosion impacts can be seen in these aerial photographs. Bluff overlook, Sunken City, and Point Fermin Sunken City and San Pedro Sunken City close view and Bluff overlook  READYLA Website- The City of Los Angeles, Emergency Management Department’s READYLA website has been developed to provide valuable information to promote readiness, build effective emergency response at all levels, and ensure community resiliency.

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