From Iceland — UK Gov't: Icelandic Volcano As Great A Threat As Nuclear Terrorism

UK Gov’t: Icelandic Volcano As Great A Threat As Nuclear Terrorism

Published April 30, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Julia Staples

Academics and scientists in Britain have concluded that the eruption of an Icelandic “supervolcano” is as great a threat to UK security as nuclear terrorism.

The Herald Scotland reports that the conclusion is part of a “high level UK government report”. The relevant excerpts from the report contend the following:

“Following the impacts of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010, two types of volcanic eruption have been added to the UK government’s National Risk Register for Civil Emergencies.

“One of these, a large gas-rich volcanic eruption, was identified as a high impact natural hazard, one of the three highest priority natural hazards faced by the UK.

“This eruption scenario is typified by the Laki eruption in Iceland in 1783-1784.

“The Civil Contingency Secretariat (CCS) of the UK’s Cabinet Office, has been working on quantifying the risk and to better understand its potential impacts.

“It has also been working to generate and assess the impacts of a ‘reasonable worst case scenario’, which can be used for decision making and preparation in advance of an eruption.”

… “The Laki ­eruption from Grimsvotn volcano in Iceland is the best understood large magnitude eruption of this type on which we have data.

“Analysis of this eruption indicates significant levels of sulphur dioxide, chlorine and fluorine were released over a number of months, causing visible pollution, mass crop failure and thousands of excess deaths. An eruption of this scale and type could have significant public health impacts.

“Widespread airspace closures on a bigger and more prolonged scale than those in 2010 could be expected due to the longevity of such an eruption.”

This isn’t the first time that the looming threat of Laki has made the news. Last January, British government officials began research and analysis for developing a civil contingency plan should a volcanic eruption in Iceland cause far more damage than Eyjafjallajökull did in 2010.

This latest report prompted Reykjavík mayor Jón Gnarr to quip on Facebook, “But the good news is that Laki is much easier to pronounce than Eyjafjallajökull.”

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