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Public perception and stakeholder involvement in the crisis management of sediment-related disasters and their mitigation: The case of the Stože debris flow in NW Slovenia


  • Matjaz Mikoš

    Corresponding author
    1. Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Jamova 2, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
    • Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Jamova 2, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
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Sediments can pose a threat to humans not only when these deposits are polluted but also due to their large quantities. This physical aspect of sediments as a risk will be shown on a case study of a sediment-related disaster that occurred in the mountainous part of Slovenia, Central Europe in 2000. In November 2000, after a long wet period a large debris landslide had been triggered on the Stože slope and stopped in the channel of the Mangart creek. Such an event took the majority of local inhabitants and emergency staff by surprise. Nevertheless, they had just organized the first mitigation measures when, after 35 hours, they were surprised by an even larger debrisflowinitiated as the second phase of the same mass movement event. Within a few minutes, the wet debris flow had devastated the alpine valley of the Koritnica River and killed 7 people in the village of Log pod Mangartom. This paper deals with crisis management and first mitigation measures under this very tense situation of searching for dead bodies. The uncertainty about possible new debris flows drove all inhabitants out of the village by a decision of the civil protection unit, and also other activities of the emergency relief units were overshadowed by the 7 victims. One of the main problems and challenges at the same time was the over 700,000m3 of wet debris flow deposits in the area of the village of Log pod Mangartom within the Triglav National park, which posed a direct threat of flooding during the first heavy rainfalls in spring 2001, and which were about to be removed to make place for future debris flows. The understanding about what really happened or about the immediate triggering factors was different among the professionals in charge for relief action and for preparing a final remediation plan. The first phase during and immediately after the disaster (relief intervention of emergency units especially those for civil protection) can be described as Concern-Driven Crisis Management or as Judgment-Based Crisis Management, respectively. The Quantitative Risk Assessment came into play in the second remediation phase through special law enforcement. Even after 10 years since the disaster, general public perception speaks in favor of judgment-based risk management rather than quantitative risk assessment, a situation that can be explained by the poor understanding of the system by local inhabitants, by low public involvement in the preparation of the final remediation plan undertaken by the state agencies, and by the fact that the final remediation is still not finished. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2011;7:216–227. © 2010 SETAC