Hazards​​


​​​Western Australia covers nearly 2500 km from north to south, a distance spanning 23 degrees of latitude. This spread encompasses several climatic zones including tropical in the far north, moving through grassland, desert, subtropical and on to temperate regions in the south west. 
 
On a world-wide scale, the broad climatic variation​ and diversity are considered rare. With Western Australia covering nearly one-third of the Australian continent, the size, remoteness and diversity of this setting presents a broad range of challenges for emergency risk management.
 
Western Australia is exposed to a range of potential hazards (there are 27 hazards prescribed in legislation in Western Australia).​​ Learn about each hazard below or watch our hazard videos.


Worldwide aviation incidents are a regular occurrence. Fortunately, disasters are less frequent but have far more devastating impacts. Major aviation incidents have shown that an air crash may cause hundreds of fatalities and injuries and be hazardous to rescuers. Crash sites may also contain a wide variety of hazardous materials. In Australia, 14 commercial airline accidents since 1950 have resulted in injury or death.

Agriculture is a major industry within Western Australia, representing about 10% of the state’s economy. Agricultural products are the second largest export commodity. Animal or plant: pests or diseases can threaten the industry, causing major economic loss, while also affecting the state’s environment, social amenity and human health.​ ​

To learn about this hazard, watch the hazard video or visit the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development's website.

​​Biological substances are organic substances that pose a threat to the health of humans, environment and property. Worldwide, it is estimated that about 320,000 workers die each year from communicable diseases caused by work-related exposure to biological substances.

To learn about this hazard visit the Department of Health's website.

There is a risk of a chemical substance emergency wherever chemical substances are manufactured, used, stored, or transported. These substances are capable of causing loss of life, injury to people, impacts to the environment and property.

To learn about this hazard visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services' website.

The collapse of natural landforms or built infrastructure such as buildings, bridges or subsurface commercial operations is a risk. A landslide in 1996 near Gracetown in the south-west of Western Australia resulted in nine deaths and a further three injuries, after 30 tonnes of rock and soil was dislodged.

​​On average, Western Australia experiences five large-scale cyclone events that threaten the coastline each year. Two of these cyclones cross the coastline, one at high intensity. These have the potential to cause deaths and injuries along with major damage to homes, infrastructure and industry.

To learn about this hazard, click herewatch the hazard video or visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services' website.

​​Western Australia has experienced at least one significant earthquake each decade since 1900. Earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater are relatively common and occur about every five years in the South West Seismic Zone, which is adjacent to the main population centres of the state. The 1968 Meckering earthquake was magnitude 6.5.

To learn about this hazard, click herewatch the hazard video or visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services' website.

​​Electricity supply disruptions are inevitable. There is a wide variety of hazards that can disrupt electricity supplies, including cyclones, storms, floods and bushfires. A severe disruption can potentially have serious, costly and distressing consequences.

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Each year in Western Australia, thousands of fires occur that destroy or damage houses, sheds, garages, commercial and industrial buildings, vehicles and vast areas of bushland. Some of these become critical events, subject to size, location or prevailing weather conditions.

To learn about this hazard, click herewatch the hazard video or visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services' website for bushfire and structural fire​.

Western Australia has a history of floods, often causing widespread impact. Floods are a natural phenomenon. After heavy rainfall, rivers, creeks and catchments may be unable to cope with water volumes and overflow causing flash flooding or slower rising riverine flooding, which is the most common cause of floods in Australia.

To learn about this hazard, click herewatch the hazard video or visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services' website.


​​​Industry and communities rely heavily upon natural gas. A gas supply disruption threatened Western Australia in 2008 when an explosion occurred at the Varanus offshore plant that supplies over 30% of the state’s gas needs, including large mining companies.​​

Heatwaves kill more people than any other natural hazard in Australia. On average, all areas of Western Australia will experience heatwave conditions annually. Heatwaves can cause increased sickness and death, increase bushfire risk and disrupt electricity supply and train services.

To learn about this hazard, click herewatch the hazard video or visit the Department of Health's website.

There have been nine human epidemics in Australia since 2000. Historically, Australia has experienced several epidemics – including the bubonic plague, H1N1, poliomyelitis and the 'Spanish flu'. Experts consider the next influenza pandemic to be inevitable.

To learn about this hazard, watch the hazard video or visit the Department of Health's website.​

Remote, harsh terrain and extreme temperatures create a challenging environment for people who undertake search and rescue missions. The need for specialist skills, equipment, medical care and interagency cooperation could elevate such searches to a critical level.

The world is heavily dependent upon energy products and a disruption to liquid fuel supply would significantly impact both industry and the community. Natural hazards such as floods and storms continue to demonstrate that liquid fuel supply disruptions affect the whole community.

​​​Marine oil pollution can have severe impacts on the environment and economy, with the response phase lasting months and the recovery phase sometimes lasting for decades. Marine oil pollution events in Western Australia include the 2009 Montara oil spill that lasted for 76 days with about 60 tonnes of oil entering the environment each day.​​

To learn about this hazard, watch the hazard video or visit the Department of Transport's website.​

​​​Marine transport emergencies can threaten lives and have significant consequences for the economy and environment. Marine transport emergencies in Australian waters include the 2007 Pasha Bulker incident which grounded the ship for almost a month.​​

To learn about this hazard watch the hazard video.​

​​​Sinking, lost and distressed vessels and aircraft, along with marine searches, occur frequently off our coastline. Australia has a search-and-rescue service that covers 52.8 million square kilometres of the Indian, Pacific and Southern oceans. Plans are in place to coordinate efforts where Commonwealth and state responsibilities intersect.
​​​Other substances not covered under the biological, chemical or radiological hazards which are capable of causing loss of life, injury to a person or damage to the health of a person, property or the environment. These substances include dangerous goods and petroleum and can also take the form of emissions from fires, or odours from situations including mixed products that may involve plastics, tyres, mixed chemicals as well as wastes and scrap metals.​​

To learn about this hazard visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services' website.

​​​There is a risk of a radiological substance emergency wherever radiological substances are manufactured, used, stored or transported. These substances are capable of causing loss of life, injury to people, and impacts to the environment and property.

If when traversing Western Australian waters, the fuel in a nuclear-powered warship melted, hazards could result from direct radiation from the vessel, radiation from a drifting cloud, inhalation of airborne particles and ingestion of contaminated food and water. Arrangements are in place to limit the consequences.

Western Australia has more than 5000 km of freight rail network. There is a risk of derailment, collision, malicious act or other rail incidents on the network. Such an event could significantly disrupt the flow of vital services.

On a typical weekday, more than 1000 passenger train services operate within Western Australia, with additional trains servicing regional centres. A derailment or collision on such a service could result in a mass casualty incident requiring substantial resources and coordination.

​​​On average, 192 people are killed in car crashes every year in Western Australia. A single road crash can result in numerous fatalities and injuries such as the road crash in Kempsey, NSW, in 1989 that caused the deaths of 35 people and injured 41.
​​​Space debris has descended out of orbit at an average rate of about one object per day for the past 50 years (2011). In 1979 debris from Skylab was found between Esperance and Rawlinna.
​​​Storms can be both deadly and destructive. Storms have killed over 770 people in Australia since 1824. Hailstorms in Perth in 2010 were the costliest event in Western Australian history causing over $1 billion worth of damage.

To learn about this hazard, click herewatch the hazard video or visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services' website.

A number of terror organisations and cells have been identified as operating or having a presence in Australia. Their activities have varied from fundraising and providing material support for terror activities overseas to plotting and undertaking domestic terrorism.
​​​Several tsunamis have reached Western Australia over the past few decades. In 2006 a tsunami inundated the Steep Point area, near Shark Bay, causing widespread erosion of roads and sand dunes. It damaged vegetation and destroyed several campsites. Significant losses could be expected if a similar tsunami were to hit a populated area.​​

To learn about this hazard, click herewatch the hazard video or visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services' website.