Comments Sought on Draft Earthquake Hazards Plan

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is accepting public comments through May 9 on a draft strategic plan for mitigating earthquake hazards. Earthquakes can't be prevented, but their impact on life, property, and the economy can and should be managed, according to the agencies participating in the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, which is working on design and construction techniques for new and existing buildings and also lifelines, monitoring and early-warning systems, coordinated emergency preparedness plans, and public education.

NIST is the lead agency for NEHRP. The final plan for 2008-2012 will guide the activities during that period by all four agencies -- FEMA, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey, and NIST -- and partners in state and local governments, the private sector, and academia.

The draft plan lists nine strategic priorities for the next four years, including implementation of the Advanced National Seismic System for impact notification, hazard assessments, and research; development of cost-effective techniques and tools to design new earthquake-resistant buildings and to improve the survivability of existing buildings; creation of realistic earthquake scenarios to help communities and businesses plan for earthquake consequences; and design of earthquake-resilient infrastructure "to end vulnerabilities and possible cascading failures in critical, interconnected transportation, ports, energy , water, sewage, communications and industrial production systems," according to NIST's April 15 announcement of the comment period.

The draft plan and information on how to submit comments are posted at www.nehrp.gov, as is the 2008 NEHRP Annual Report submitted to Congress last month.

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