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Lightning Safety

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)

1. Abstract
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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