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Risk Symposium focuses on analysis, modeling potential natural and man-made disasters

By Roger Snodgrass

POJOAQUE — The 2009 Risk Symposium sponsored by Los Alamos National Laboratory and several partners wraps up today at Buffalo Thunder Resort in Pojoaque.

The conference, which has become an annual affair, began Tuesday and brought together about 150 people from the risk community, including a substantial contingent from the Department of Homeland Security.

Theoreticians and computer modelers in academia and national laboratories batted ideas back and forth with subject experts, decision makers and managers in government and private industry.

The theme this year was about risk analysis and natural and man-made disasters as complex systems. Participants found new ways to think about unthinkables. And from a safe distance, they sampled vulnerability scenarios for things like pandemics and dam bursts.

Rene LeClaire, a LANL modeler described a study his team has been doing integrating models that could be used to analyze potential impacts on infrastructure from a dam disruption. Dams are usually located at the confluence of an energy source and water resource, the kind of place that has implications for many other vital activities, especially if interrupted or damaged, because many other parts of the infrastructure depend on them.

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