21st Century Lightning
Safety for Environments Containing
Sensitive Electronics, Explosives and Volatile Substances
By Richard Kithi,
President & CEO, NLSI
Note: This paper also available in Russian
Version (PDF file) and Spanish
Version (Word file)
In the USA civilian sector lightning causes $4-5 billion losses per year (NLSI, 1999).
In the government sector, the military (DDESB - Department of Defense Explosive Safety
Board) has reported 88 identifiable lightning induced munitions explosions with costs
and deaths not calculated. DDESB was formed as a result of the July 1926 Picatinny Arsenal
incident which killed 14 people and cost $70 million. The US Department of Energy (DOE)
has reported 346 known lightning events to its facilities during the 1990-2000 period.
Recent Russian lightning incidents to arsenals include: June 1998 near Losiniy (Yekaterinburg);
June 2001 near Nerchinsk (Siberia); and July 2001 near Buryatia. In Beira Mozambique (October
2002) lightning exploded a military ammunition storage depot with considerable loss of
lives and collateral damage. With such examples, it is difficult to support a position
that catastrophic lightning incidents are rare. How to mitigate the lightning hazard at
sensitive facilities? This paper suggests adoption of a homologuous lightning safety planning
process which can be applied to most contemporary environments.
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