At the frontiers of environmental risk

The risks of damage to the environment share some of the problems of certain risks that are managed differently from major and environmental risks. Although the core of its expertise deals with the risks regulated by the French Environmental Code, Ineris is also called upon to tackle risks whose prevention is mandated in other regulatory frameworks.

The Institute’s competences extend to risks that do not fall under major and environmental risks regulations. These other areas of expertise are rooted in the Institute’s history (such as mining risk, which was the focus of Cerchar) or in the evolution of specific competences. For example, expertise in measuring air pollutants was applied in the workplace to comply with workplace hygiene requirements.

The Institute also tackles issues raised by “new risks” such as cybercrime and cybersecurity, wherever they apply to its core fields of expertise.

Mining and “post-mining” risks are major risks, comparable to natural risks and technological risks, because they can cause ground movement or other dangerous phenomena (explosions, fires, gas leaks, etc.). Mining risk has its own specific regulations (the Mining Code), which are separate from those of natural cavities and quarries, and consistent with those of other major risks. This code, which dates back to the 19th century, is the result of a peculiar legal status: because subterranean resources are strategic national resources, they belong to the State and not the owner of the land.

The occupational risks to which miners are exposed fall into the categories of both industrial and technological risks; the two approaches complement one another. The first category deals with risks and their consequences inside the installation (the subjects of the risk are employees and equipment). The second category is of risks with consequences outside the installation (risks to locals, nearby dwellings, surrounding natural environment). Occupational risks are regulated in France by the French Labour Code and, unlike in the rest of Europe, major industrial risk in France does not factor in consequences located outside of the industrial site.

Terrorism and cybercrime, which sit at the intersection of civil and military risks, may target industrial installations with the intent of provoking a dangerous event (fire, explosion, toxic leak, etc.). This type of “threat” falls within the scope of technological risk management, but it also applies to territorial security and the management of public order.

Operating an industrial installation can involve cyber risks. These can generate malfunctions, affecting the safety of the installation, or they can be used to carry out a malicious act. Cyber risks are considered in the management of technological risks, but information systems are transversal to all economic activities (industry, healthcare and pharma, banking and insurance, consumer products, etc.).