1. BYU is located along the Wasatch Fault, one of the most active faults in the United States. Utah Seismograph Stations record over 700 seismic events every year, most of which are very small. About 13 of these earthquakes every year are of a magnitude of 3.0 to 4.0 on the Richter Scale, but cause no damage. However, based upon geological studies, large earthquakes (6.5-7.5) occur on the Wasatch Fault about once every 400 years. According to geologists, the chance of such a large earthquake on the Wasatch Fault during the next 50 years is about one in five (20%).
2. In addition to the very real threat of a large earthquake, BYU could also be affected by numerous other potential incidents, emergencies and disasters. The following situations have been identified as possible occurrences that need to be evaluated and addressed in any emergency planning effort at BYU:
- Bomb Threats/Terrorism: This threat is increasing as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints continues its world-wide growth. The Church, and consequently BYU, could increasingly become a target of terrorist activities.
- Civil Disturbances: If economic or political conditions change significantly, BYU could be affected by civil disturbances, most likely at the instigation of outside elements. There have been minor incidents during the last few years, but they were handled effectively by University Police.
- Energy Failures: Such incidents are common in this area of Utah, usually as a result of natural occurences (wind storms, snow storms, etc.)
- Evacuations (mass): The potential for evacuations is relatively low, unless other major incidents occur.
- Fires: BYU has an excellent fire prevention program, but the potential is still there. In most instances, fires would affect single buildings and be responded to by the Provo City Fire Department. However, in the case of a major seismic event, numerous fires could occur which would exceed the resources available to the Provo City Fire Department.
- Floods: Generally, flooding of BYU property would only be expected in the unlikely event of a dam rupture. Dam failure studies for Deer Creek Dam in the event of rupture indicate a maximum depth of 23-25 feet from the mouth of Provo Canyon along the Orem bench to the edge of Utah Lake. In this case, low lying areas of BYU (Helaman Halls, Wyview Housing, Richards Building, Smith Field House, etc.) would be affected.
- Hazardous Materials Incidents (spills): BYU uses numerous hazardous materials in the maintenance areas as well as the academic departments. Thus, the potential for a spill is always present.
- Transportation Accidents: Interstate 15 is a major transportation route carrying industrial and hazardous material cargo. In addition, a main rail line runs through Provo. Spills along these routes probably would not directly affect BYU but could conceivable affect BYU personnel who live in those areas or while traveling to and from the university.
- War (possibly with nuclear weapons): The United States has been blessed to be able to fight most of its wars on foreign soil, but there is always the possibility that this could change. If so, BYU could be directly affected. Even if war occurs in other areas of the world, activation of reserve units or a draft could draw critical personnel away from the university.
- Weather Extremes: Some of the effects of weather extremes are primary and others secondary, but both primary and secondary affects could be devastating for large numbers of BYU personnel. The most significant secondary affect is power failure, especially during the winter months.
- Incidents of Violence/Threats of Violence: Usually such incidents are small enough to be effectively managed by the University Police and/or Student Life, however, increasingly such incidents are impacting university campuses across the country. This plan addresses not only the management of such events when they occur, but steps to be taken by University personnel to prevent such incidents if the potential for such is recognized in the developing stages.