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Lahar State Of readiness Increases

To: All Media. Date: Thursday 30 November 2006.

Response Agencies State Of Readiness For Dam Break Lahar Increases In-Line With Warning Level

The Department of Conservation has today (Thursday 30 November 2006) raised the Crater Lake warning level for the anticipated ‘dam break’ lahar from the Mt Ruapehu Crater Lake to Warning Level 2.

The increase in the Lahar warning level to Warning Level 2 is in response to the Crater Lake level now being 3.8 m above the hard rock crater rim and old lake outlet and half way to the top of the 7.6 m tephra (volcanic debris) dam created during the 1995/1996 eruptions.

The increase to Warning Level 2 raises the ‘state of readiness’ including response times of the agencies involved in the lahar emergency response as planned under the ‘Ruapehu Lahar: Emergency Management Plan (Southern)’ (RLEMP).

The RLEMP was developed by the Southern Ruapehu Lahar Planning Group (SRLPG) consisting of the Ruapehu District Council, Horizons Regional Council, Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) and Police along with key support agencies the Department of Conservation and the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Science amongst others.

Chris Ryan, Chief Executive for the Ruapehu District Council, the lead response agency for the SRLPG, stated that all the organisations involved will now adjust their ‘state of readiness’ and response times in-line with the increased lahar threat level and the planned requirements of the RLEMP.

“With the crater lake reaching Warning Level 2 all response agencies will shorten their response times to the ERLAWS (lahar) early warning system as well as undertaking various other steps to improve their readiness for the actual lahar event,” said Mr Ryan.

“Only recently (Wednesday 25 October 2006) the SRLPG along with our key support agencies have undertaken the largest test yet of the ‘Ruapehu Lahar: Emergency Management Plan’,” he said.

“The exercise that involved over 100 personnel from the SRLPG organisations and other key agencies involved in the lahar emergency response reflected the highest degree of realism and operational complexity tested so far.”

“The success of the recent lahar response exercise which was the sixth held to date along with the robustness of the ‘Ruapehu Lahar: Emergency Management Plan’ planning process gives the SRLPG and other agencies every confidence that we are well prepared for the real dam break lahar event when it occurs.”

The risk level for a ‘dam break’ lahar occurring is now ‘low-moderate’ with a 1-2% probability of the tephra dam failing.


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