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Environmental studies

Question

In June 2007 Sheffield experienced two spells of exceptionally heavy rainfall. This resulted in unprecedented events in the City and the evacuation of a number of properties and people. It caused significant financial losses and damage to the environment.
Using these events as a basis of a case study, you have been asked to compile a 2000 word report that covers:

• The contributory factors causing the floods.

• The immediate impact and significant risks caused by the flooding

• Identifying the agencies involved and outlines their response and role during the event including the recovery phase.

• Evaluating the effectiveness of environmental management systems in place at the time. The lessons learnt and recommendations to prevent future flooding or mitigate its effects on the environment.
.
ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
Thorough explicit knowledge and understanding of Environmental Management issues. Clear understanding of and explicit links to wider aspects of the field. Sustained and fully substantiated critical analysis including competing perspectives. Discussion is fully supported by reference to relevant contemporary source material and key texts. Accurate and appropriate use of referencing system. Wholly relevant to all aspects of the set task and often insightful. Organising principles always promote and enrich the discussion. Logical structure and some evidence of independent thought. Work displays an excellent use of written English.

Title: Environmental Management

Name of student:

Course name:

Class name:

Date assignment due:

Introduction

The severe flooding that affected Sheffield following two spells of heavy rainfall affected people, their homes and businesses in an extremely negative way. Thousands of properties were destroyed across the city center. The ineffectiveness of the environmental management systems in place was revealed after these floods, especially floodplain development.

ORDER ENVIRONMENT PAPER

This paper highlights the factors that contributed to the Sheffield flooding. It also assesses the immediate effect and significant risks that the flooding caused. All the agencies that were involved during the flooding, as well as their respective roles during the recovery, are also identified. Finally, the paper highlights the lessons learned and recommends environmental management changes in order to mitigate the effects of flooding in the future.

The contributory factors causing the floods

Sheffield is located at the foot of the Pennines, where three rivers: the Loxley, the Don and the Sheaf meet. Some water storage reservoirs have been built upstream. However, they were quickly overwhelmed by the prolonged heavy rain that rocked Sheffield in June 2007. One of the factors that contributed to the flooding was improperly designed city drainage systems. This caused the rivers to overflow, causing widespread flooding across the city.

The floods were extremely devastating for various reasons. First, severe weather was the primary cause. June 2007 was the wettest month in Yorkshire since 1882. Additionally, many businesses and homes have been built on natural floodplains. For this reason, River Don and all its tributaries were squeezed into culverts and channels across the city, leaving little or no expansion space during flooding.

The rivers in Sheffield have been used here for many centuries during which time the city has been growing. The vulnerability of Sheffield to flooding is historic, considering that, in the past, the city’s floodplains were home to Sheffield’s famous steel industry. Recently, major schemes had bee approved against the advice of Sheffield City Council. An outstanding example is a proposal in 2006 to convert an office space into children’s nursery. During the flooding, the building was totally cut off by floods.

The weather that contributed to the flooding was unusual, mainly as a result of extremely high Atlantic sea temperatures. The strength of the jet stream also contributed to the unexpectedly harsh weather conditions. A jet stream is a ribbon of many strong winds that have an appreciable influence on how weather systems that cause rain in the UK develop. For much of the summer of 2007, the jet stream was stronger than usual, and it had also moved further south. This resulted in the creation of rain-bearing depressions that crossed the central and southern parts of the U.K. Additionally; sea temperatures became warmer than usual, creating more rain clouds.

Although flood risk was a crucial factor in the recent approval and construction processes of new buildings in Sheffield, the floods were exceedingly overwhelming. The costly repairs needed to repair these buildings triggered an outcry for better development decisions involving redevelopment of Sheffield’s floodplains.

The Sheffield floods revealed the delicate balance existing between growth in cities across England and flood risk management efforts. For instance, out of the 10,850 planning applications reviewed by Environment Agency between 2006 and mid-2007, officials across the country, objections were made on 40 per cent of them (Environment Agency 2007, p. 2). The objections were made because issues of flood risk had not been properly taken into consideration. Thirteen out of the 277 principal schemes that were reviewed were still granted approval against Environment Agency’s recommendations.

The immediate impact and significant risks caused by the flooding

The Sheffield floods caused damage to property, business interruption and destruction of the country’s infrastructure. Transport systems were disrupted and many roads were closed by landslides, leaving many travelers stranded. Thousands of vehicles were affected when many roads were suddenly turned into rivers. Some vehicles were totally damaged, requiring full replacement. Electric systems were also affected.  Flooding and landslides blocked railway lines closing many commuter lines for weeks. At the peak of the Sheffield flooding, about 140,000 were cut off from water while 50,000 were without power. Fortunately, within 48 hours, power lines had been repaired.

The agricultural sector also suffered a severe blow. Many crops such as carrots, potatoes, peas and broccoli were submerged. In situations where the floodwater contained sewage, all the crops that had come into contact with the floodwater had to be destroyed. In the future, restrictions may have to be necessary regarding areas where crops can be planted in order to avoid contamination. The floods also resulted in the largest flood-related insurance losses in the U.K. Many people in the U.K have bought flood insurance policies since these types of policies were introduced into the country in the 1960s(David 2008, p. 125).

The agencies involved and response and role during the event including the recovery phase.

One of the agencies that were involved during Sheffield floods is Health Protection Agency (HPA). The agency sprang into action when a request was made for advice on the best psychosocial interventions that would be effective in such a situation. HPA prepared preliminary guidance in order to facilitate both local and national emergency assistance-related activities.

According to (Amlot & Page 2008, p. 2), traumatic events such as the Sheffield flooding are best described using different phases. The three phases identified by Amlot and Page include the impact phase, immediate post-disaster phase and the recovery phase. The impact phase describes the events that take time of the disaster’s immediate threat, where the greatest extent of disruption and force take place. The immediate post-disaster phase is marked by the days and weeks that follow the emergency situation. This is the time when emergency responders, individuals and communities come in to take stock of the damage caused, to recover with affected friends former social networks. The recovery phase is characterized by continued efforts by authorities, agencies and individuals to rebuild their society. The actions of agencies are extremely critical in the affected people’s ability to deal with the disasters. During the recovery phase, poorly implemented and managed response and recovery efforts and operations may increase the feelings of isolation among the affected communities, however, noble the intentions of these agencies.

ORDER ENVIRONMENT PAPER

The Environment Agency was involved in all phases of the Sheffield flooding disaster. The Environment agency is the sole authority that is responsible for flood risk management in England and Wales. Unfortunately, during the June 2007 flooding, there was little evidence of proper coordination between the Environment Agency and other organizations in the management of large volumes of rainfall. Although drainage lies outside the mandate of the Environment Agency, the body has recently taken part in a pilot project worth 1.7 million sterling pounds on creation of long-term drainage systems.

According to the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts report (2008, p. 3), the Environment Agency was unable to show that it had facilitated maintenance teams efficiently. The agency was also unable to show that high priority was concentrated on high-risk flood defense systems. According to the House of Commons report, the agency maintains only 62% of the entire length of defenses raised as well as 37% of the flood defense structures, totaling 46,000. During the Sheffield flooding, the Environment Agency’s flood protection unit also relied on private landowners’ defenses.

The Red Cross was also actively involved during the post-disaster and recovery phases of the Sheffield floods. The Red Cross started working in all the affected areas soon after the floods commenced. Hundreds of volunteers operated rest centers, provided emergency utilities such as bedding and offered support emergency-related services to people who had been evacuated from their homes. The National Floods Appeal was able to raise 4.8 million pounds, money that went towards helping communities facing hardships. The Red Cross also worked closely with both regional and national government agencies to facilitate recovery efforts.

The Red Cross offered emotional and practical support services to victims, most of who were also in need of first aid. The voluntary organization made use of its well-equipped FESS (fire and emergency support service) vehicles to support local emergency services. Before the start of the floods, the Red Cross had launched a well-coordinated response aimed at helping vulnerable people in flood-prone areas in the UK (National Floods Appeal, 2007). The main services offered by the Red Cross included evacuations, staffing of rest centers, and support to the statutory services.

The effectiveness of environmental management systems in place at the time

It is extremely difficult to guarantee flood protection to everyone all the time. Even in situations where flood defenses are in place, sometimes flooding becomes so severe that these defenses are overwhelmed(Environmental Protection 2008, p. 114). This is the main reason why the U.K government policymakers prioritized flood control measures only in those areas where it is practical and environmentally appropriate. However, there are many old flooding protection schemes in the country that need to be redesigned in order to make them more efficient.

Prior to the Sheffield flooding disaster, the U.K government had announced efforts to increase funding for sea and river flooding risk management initiatives. The aim was to increase funding from the 600 million pounds annually in 2007 to 800 million pounds by 2011. Meanwhile, most of the work of managing surface water systems is carried out by the local government. At the time of the Sheffield flooding disaster, the Government’s Foresight report had advised that there was a need for annual spending by the local council to be increased by 30 million pounds. The main reason that was cited for the need to increase funding was predictions on climate hange.

With regard to the provision of flooding insurance, the government had already entered into an agreement with the Association of British Insurers (ABI). The ABI had requested the government to increase the annual flood risk management budgetary allocation by 10%. When the Sheffield floods struck, the government had announced its intention to raise the annual investment in flood risk management by 10% to 70 million pounds up to 2011. Additionally, the national government had engaged the local authorities in efforts to put a long-term investment strategy in response to the need for funding in the area of flood defense.

The standards for protection from flood defenses such as embankments, walls, pumping stations and flood storage areas varied widely at the time of the Sheffield flooding. Some areas were completely undefended while others had defenses that were designed to protect against flows that were expected only once every 100 years.

Soon after the floods struck, the general feeling among Sheffield residents was that the Environment Agency was doing little in terms of river maintenance efforts such as dredging. Attention should have been shifted from rural to urban rivers. The local government, water companies and highway agencies had failed to build and maintain road gullies, sewers and drains.

The lessons learnt

In 2008, The Sheffield City Council started preparing strategic assessments in order to ensure that devastating floods are avoided in the future. The Council has learned many lessons from both the SFRA report published in 2006 and the June 2007 floods. The Council has learned about the importance of incorporating flood risk as strategic measure within the Local Development Framework (LDF).

The U.K government also learned a rather sad lesson regarding the need to put in place emergency rescue measures in place to avoid loss of lives in times of such disasters. The arising logistical challenges triggered a series of strategic planning initiatives. These initiatives were aimed at monitoring and anticipating environmental challenges brought about by climate change. A crucial element of these initiatives must include a summary of mitigation efforts of ensuring that human suffering and destruction of property is avoided in times of such disasters.

Sheffield residents also learned many lessons from the floods. Those who had bought insurance policies were able to withstand many social, financial and emotional challenges as they used the compensation money to rebuild their lives.

Recommendations

First, the U.K government needs to consider whether its current investment in flood risk management is satisfactory. The data collected regarding implementation of flood defenses should be used to improve the government’s asset management system. The timing and frequency of different river maintenance activities is in need of review. The reasons for adopting particular approaches in river maintenance should be explained in order to determine whether there is a need for them to be changed.

There is a need to consider the environmental challenges that are posed by severe floods, both directly and indirectly. These challenges should be tackled with resilience mainly through raising the profile of critical infrastructure. Issues of health risks and pollution should be integrated into these plans. It is upon the U.K government to put measures in place to ensure that key public service providers take responsibility for protection of people’s lives and property. The Environment Agency should review the existing environment management systems to ensure that they empower industry players to deal effectively with flood events.

References

Amlot, R, & Page, L, 2008, ‘Helping individuals, families and communities cope in the aftermath of flooding’ chemical hazards and poisons report from the Chemical Hazards and Poisons Division.

David, C, 2008, ‘Role of Insurance in Reducing Flood Risk’, The Geneva Papers, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 117-132

Environmental Protection, 2008, Fire and Rescue Manual, Volume 2, Blackwell, London

Environment Agency, 2007, Case Study: 2007 Summer floods – Reducing the pressure on Sheffield’s floodplain, http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/Research/floodplaincasestudy_1917435.pdf, retrieved on June 29, 2010.

House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts, Environment Agency: Building and maintaining river and coastal flood defences in England: Fourth Report of Session 2007–08.

National Floods Appeal, 2007, How the crisis unfoldedhttp://www.redcross.org.uk/standard.asp?id=72040 retrieved on June 29th 2010.

Question

In June 2007 Sheffield experienced two spells of exceptionally heavy rainfall. This resulted in unprecedented events in the City and the evacuation of a number of properties and people. It caused significant financial losses and damage to the environment.
Using these events as a basis of a case study, you have been asked to compile a 2000 word report that covers:

• The contributory factors causing the floods.

• The immediate impact and significant risks caused by the flooding

• Identifying the agencies involved and outlines their response and role during the event including the recovery phase.

• Evaluating the effectiveness of environmental management systems in place at the time. The lessons learnt and recommendations to prevent future flooding or mitigate its effects on the environment.
.
ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
Thorough explicit knowledge and understanding of Environmental Management issues. Clear understanding of and explicit links to wider aspects of the field. Sustained and fully substantiated critical analysis including competing perspectives. Discussion is fully supported by reference to relevant contemporary source material and key texts. Accurate and appropriate use of referencing system. Wholly relevant to all aspects of the set task and often insightful. Organising principles always promote and enrich the discussion. Logical structure and some evidence of independent thought. Work displays an excellent use of written English.

Title: Environmental Management

Name of student:

Course name:

Class name:

Date assignment due:

Introduction

The severe flooding that affected Sheffield following two spells of heavy rainfall affected people, their homes and businesses in an extremely negative way. Thousands of properties were destroyed across the city center. The ineffectiveness of the environmental management systems in place was revealed after these floods, especially floodplain development.

This paper highlights the factors that contributed to the Sheffield flooding. It also assesses the immediate effect and significant risks that the flooding caused. All the agencies that were involved during the flooding, as well as their respective roles during the recovery, are also identified. Finally, the paper highlights the lessons learned and recommends environmental management changes in order to mitigate the effects of flooding in the future.

The contributory factors causing the floods

Sheffield is located at the foot of the Pennines, where three rivers: the Loxley, the Don and the Sheaf meet. Some water storage reservoirs have been built upstream. However, they were quickly overwhelmed by the prolonged heavy rain that rocked Sheffield in June 2007. One of the factors that contributed to the flooding was improperly designed city drainage systems. This caused the rivers to overflow, causing widespread flooding across the city.

The floods were extremely devastating for various reasons. First, severe weather was the primary cause. June 2007 was the wettest month in Yorkshire since 1882. Additionally, many businesses and homes have been built on natural floodplains. For this reason, River Don and all its tributaries were squeezed into culverts and channels across the city, leaving little or no expansion space during flooding.

The rivers in Sheffield have been used here for many centuries during which time the city has been growing. The vulnerability of Sheffield to flooding is historic, considering that, in the past, the city’s floodplains were home to Sheffield’s famous steel industry. Recently, major schemes had bee approved against the advice of Sheffield City Council. An outstanding example is a proposal in 2006 to convert an office space into children’s nursery. During the flooding, the building was totally cut off by floods.

The weather that contributed to the flooding was unusual, mainly as a result of extremely high Atlantic sea temperatures. The strength of the jet stream also contributed to the unexpectedly harsh weather conditions. A jet stream is a ribbon of many strong winds that have an appreciable influence on how weather systems that cause rain in the UK develop. For much of the summer of 2007, the jet stream was stronger than usual, and it had also moved further south. This resulted in the creation of rain-bearing depressions that crossed the central and southern parts of the U.K. Additionally; sea temperatures became warmer than usual, creating more rain clouds.

Although flood risk was a crucial factor in the recent approval and construction processes of new buildings in Sheffield, the floods were exceedingly overwhelming. The costly repairs needed to repair these buildings triggered an outcry for better development decisions involving redevelopment of Sheffield’s floodplains.

The Sheffield floods revealed the delicate balance existing between growth in cities across England and flood risk management efforts. For instance, out of the 10,850 planning applications reviewed by Environment Agency between 2006 and mid-2007, officials across the country, objections were made on 40 per cent of them (Environment Agency 2007, p. 2). The objections were made because issues of flood risk had not been properly taken into consideration. Thirteen out of the 277 principal schemes that were reviewed were still granted approval against Environment Agency’s recommendations.

The immediate impact and significant risks caused by the flooding

The Sheffield floods caused damage to property, business interruption and destruction of the country’s infrastructure. Transport systems were disrupted and many roads were closed by landslides, leaving many travelers stranded. Thousands of vehicles were affected when many roads were suddenly turned into rivers. Some vehicles were totally damaged, requiring full replacement. Electric systems were also affected.  Flooding and landslides blocked railway lines closing many commuter lines for weeks. At the peak of the Sheffield flooding, about 140,000 were cut off from water while 50,000 were without power. Fortunately, within 48 hours, power lines had been repaired.

The agricultural sector also suffered a severe blow. Many crops such as carrots, potatoes, peas and broccoli were submerged. In situations where the floodwater contained sewage, all the crops that had come into contact with the floodwater had to be destroyed. In the future, restrictions may have to be necessary regarding areas where crops can be planted in order to avoid contamination. The floods also resulted in the largest flood-related insurance losses in the U.K. Many people in the U.K have bought flood insurance policies since these types of policies were introduced into the country in the 1960s(David 2008, p. 125).

The agencies involved and response and role during the event including the recovery phase.

One of the agencies that were involved during Sheffield floods is Health Protection Agency (HPA). The agency sprang into action when a request was made for advice on the best psychosocial interventions that would be effective in such a situation. HPA prepared preliminary guidance in order to facilitate both local and national emergency assistance-related activities.

According to (Amlot & Page 2008, p. 2), traumatic events such as the Sheffield flooding are best described using different phases. The three phases identified by Amlot and Page include the impact phase, immediate post-disaster phase and the recovery phase. The impact phase describes the events that take time of the disaster’s immediate threat, where the greatest extent of disruption and force take place. The immediate post-disaster phase is marked by the days and weeks that follow the emergency situation. This is the time when emergency responders, individuals and communities come in to take stock of the damage caused, to recover with affected friends former social networks. The recovery phase is characterized by continued efforts by authorities, agencies and individuals to rebuild their society. The actions of agencies are extremely critical in the affected people’s ability to deal with the disasters. During the recovery phase, poorly implemented and managed response and recovery efforts and operations may increase the feelings of isolation among the affected communities, however, noble the intentions of these agencies.

The Environment Agency was involved in all phases of the Sheffield flooding disaster. The Environment agency is the sole authority that is responsible for flood risk management in England and Wales. Unfortunately, during the June 2007 flooding, there was little evidence of proper coordination between the Environment Agency and other organizations in the management of large volumes of rainfall. Although drainage lies outside the mandate of the Environment Agency, the body has recently taken part in a pilot project worth 1.7 million sterling pounds on creation of long-term drainage systems.

According to the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts report (2008, p. 3), the Environment Agency was unable to show that it had facilitated maintenance teams efficiently. The agency was also unable to show that high priority was concentrated on high-risk flood defense systems. According to the House of Commons report, the agency maintains only 62% of the entire length of defenses raised as well as 37% of the flood defense structures, totaling 46,000. During the Sheffield flooding, the Environment Agency’s flood protection unit also relied on private landowners’ defenses.

The Red Cross was also actively involved during the post-disaster and recovery phases of the Sheffield floods. The Red Cross started working in all the affected areas soon after the floods commenced. Hundreds of volunteers operated rest centers, provided emergency utilities such as bedding and offered support emergency-related services to people who had been evacuated from their homes. The National Floods Appeal was able to raise 4.8 million pounds, money that went towards helping communities facing hardships. The Red Cross also worked closely with both regional and national government agencies to facilitate recovery efforts.

The Red Cross offered emotional and practical support services to victims, most of who were also in need of first aid. The voluntary organization made use of its well-equipped FESS (fire and emergency support service) vehicles to support local emergency services. Before the start of the floods, the Red Cross had launched a well-coordinated response aimed at helping vulnerable people in flood-prone areas in the UK (National Floods Appeal, 2007). The main services offered by the Red Cross included evacuations, staffing of rest centers, and support to the statutory services.

The effectiveness of environmental management systems in place at the time

It is extremely difficult to guarantee flood protection to everyone all the time. Even in situations where flood defenses are in place, sometimes flooding becomes so severe that these defenses are overwhelmed(Environmental Protection 2008, p. 114). This is the main reason why the U.K government policymakers prioritized flood control measures only in those areas where it is practical and environmentally appropriate. However, there are many old flooding protection schemes in the country that need to be redesigned in order to make them more efficient.

Prior to the Sheffield flooding disaster, the U.K government had announced efforts to increase funding for sea and river flooding risk management initiatives. The aim was to increase funding from the 600 million pounds annually in 2007 to 800 million pounds by 2011. Meanwhile, most of the work of managing surface water systems is carried out by the local government. At the time of the Sheffield flooding disaster, the Government’s Foresight report had advised that there was a need for annual spending by the local council to be increased by 30 million pounds. The main reason that was cited for the need to increase funding was predictions on climate change.

With regard to the provision of flooding insurance, the government had already entered into an agreement with the Association of British Insurers (ABI). The ABI had requested the government to increase the annual flood risk management budgetary allocation by 10%. When the Sheffield floods struck, the government had announced its intention to raise the annual investment in flood risk management by 10% to 70 million pounds up to 2011. Additionally, the national government had engaged the local authorities in efforts to put a long-term investment strategy in response to the need for funding in the area of flood defense.

The standards for protection from flood defenses such as embankments, walls, pumping stations and flood storage areas varied widely at the time of the Sheffield flooding. Some areas were completely undefended while others had defenses that were designed to protect against flows that were expected only once every 100 years.

Soon after the floods struck, the general feeling among Sheffield residents was that the Environment Agency was doing little in terms of river maintenance efforts such as dredging. Attention should have been shifted from rural to urban rivers. The local government, water companies and highway agencies had failed to build and maintain road gullies, sewers and drains.

The lessons learnt

In 2008, The Sheffield City Council started preparing strategic assessments in order to ensure that devastating floods are avoided in the future. The Council has learned many lessons from both the SFRA report published in 2006 and the June 2007 floods. The Council has learned about the importance of incorporating flood risk as strategic measure within the Local Development Framework (LDF).

The U.K government also learned a rather sad lesson regarding the need to put in place emergency rescue measures in place to avoid loss of lives in times of such disasters. The arising logistical challenges triggered a series of strategic planning initiatives. These initiatives were aimed at monitoring and anticipating environmental challenges brought about by climate change. A crucial element of these initiatives must include a summary of mitigation efforts of ensuring that human suffering and destruction of property is avoided in times of such disasters.

Sheffield residents also learned many lessons from the floods. Those who had bought insurance policies were able to withstand many social, financial and emotional challenges as they used the compensation money to rebuild their lives.

Recommendations

First, the U.K government needs to consider whether its current investment in flood risk management is satisfactory. The data collected regarding implementation of flood defenses should be used to improve the government’s asset management system. The timing and frequency of different river maintenance activities is in need of review. The reasons for adopting particular approaches in river maintenance should be explained in order to determine whether there is a need for them to be changed.

There is a need to consider the environmental challenges that are posed by severe floods, both directly and indirectly. These challenges should be tackled with resilience mainly through raising the profile of critical infrastructure. Issues of health risks and pollution should be integrated into these plans. It is upon the U.K government to put measures in place to ensure that key public service providers take responsibility for protection of people’s lives and property. The Environment Agency should review the existing environment management systems to ensure that they empower industry players to deal effectively with flood events.

References

Amlot, R, & Page, L, 2008, ‘Helping individuals, families and communities cope in the aftermath of flooding’ chemical hazards and poisons report from the Chemical Hazards and Poisons Division.

David, C, 2008, ‘Role of Insurance in Reducing Flood Risk’, The Geneva Papers, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 117-132

Environmental Protection, 2008, Fire and Rescue Manual, Volume 2, Blackwell, London

Environment Agency, 2007, Case Study: 2007 Summer floods – Reducing the pressure on Sheffield’s floodplain, http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/Research/floodplaincasestudy_1917435.pdf, retrieved on June 29, 2010.

House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts, Environment Agency: Building and maintaining river and coastal flood defences in England: Fourth Report of Session 2007–08.

National Floods Appeal, 2007, How the crisis unfoldedhttp://www.redcross.org.uk/standard.asp?id=72040 retrieved on June 29th 2010.

National Floods Appeal, 2007, How the crisis unfoldedhttp://www.redcross.org.uk/standard.asp?id=72040 retrieved on June 29th 2010.

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