Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Ellen M. Douglas

Second Advisor

Helen C. Poynton

Third Advisor

David Timmons


Sea level rise and coastal inundation are unavoidable. Historically, flood events increase risk of failure on aboveground storage tanks. Significant failures have occurred, resulting in high costs, significant human health effects, and drastic ecological impacts; therefore, an increase in risk of failure as a result of sea level rise is likely to occur. This study investigated the climate, ecological, and economic risks of aboveground storage tank failures associated with sea level rise. We combined the traditional climate change risk assessments with ecological risk assessments into a new, versatile, transdisciplinary framework called the Climate and Ecological Risk Assessment, which provides a means to determine the risk, both the climate and ecological, that the aboveground storage tanks and surrounding communities may experience with increased pressures. The versatility and transdisciplinary nature of the Climate and Ecological Risk Assessment was demonstrated through a case study of the aboveground storage tanks located along Chelsea Creek, Massachusetts. This area was chosen because there are 100 aboveground storage tanks located along the creek’s banks and the surrounding communities are classified as environmental justice neighborhoods. Environmental justice communities historically have had a higher sensitivity to climate events. This assessment, along with an economic risk assessment of the building damages and costs associated with the cleanup of tank failures was performed’ calculating the expected present value of damages was $10.9 billion in damages from 2013 to 2070, demonstrating the significant vulnerability of the impacted environmental justice communities. This study was a preliminary investigation into the increasing risks on aboveground storage tanks. More information regarding the tanks contents is critical moving forward into the future; further action and planning should take place to determine the best means to reduce this risk.


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