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Lecture 14

Lecture 14.docx

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Barbara Murck

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Lecture 14 Technological Hazards •Characteristics of technological hazards •Difference between technological and anthropogenic hazards •Four short case studies: –Bhopal Gas Release –Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Explosion –Love Canal Groundwater Contamination –BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Technological Hazards •Anthropogenic hazards arising from the interaction of social, environmental, and technological systems. –Note that “anthropogenic” hazards can be “natural” hazards caused, accelerated, or exacerbated by human activity. –This is different from “technological” hazards but the distinction is very blurry Technological Hazards (some types and causes) •Releases of chemicals to the atmosphere by explosion or fire •Releases of chemicals into water by tank rupture, pipeline rupture, road or rail accidents, etc. •Oil spills in marine environment •Satellite or aircraft crash •Train derailment •Dam, bridge, or tunnel collapse •Releases of radionuclides to the environment (radwaste, nuclear reactors, medical radionuclides) •Harmful materials in the built environment (asbestos, radon, UFFI) •Consequences of sabotage, acts of terrorism •Releases resulting from military action (depleted uranium, landmines, chemical weapons) •Contamination of water, soil, groundwater, or air by waste management activities •Destruction or collapse of facilities •Mine collapses and explosions •Boats, submarines sinking •Releases as a consequence of the use or transport of biological materials (viruses, bacteria, fungi) Technological Hazards •Risk is increasing as a result of: –Increased industrialization in densely populated areas –Increased number and variety of industrial processes and products –Globalization of production –Transportation of hazardous materials –Waste management and disposal issues –Increased use of hazardous materials for purposes of terrorism Technological Hazards •Natural hazards can cause or exacerbate technological disasters –Building collapse due to earthquake –Dam collapse caused by flooding •In turn, social/technological factors can cause or exacerbate “natural” disasters –Flooding worsened by river channelization –Deforestation and overly-intensive agriculture leading to desertification Technological Hazards • Technological hazards can be… – Purely accidental • Collapse and sinking of an off-shore oil drilling rig during a freak storm – Purely intentional • Oil wells bombed by Iraqi army during retreat from Kuwait during Persian Gulf War • WTC collapse – Somewhere in-between (lack of preparation or negligence) • BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill • Bhopal gas release Technological Hazards • Technological hazards can be… – Rapid-onset • Tanker sinks causing an oil spill • Building collapses during an earthquake – Slow-onset • Desertification caused by deforestation or overly-intensive agriculture • Acid rain caused by industrial emissions – “Creeping” (slow-onset with sudden manifestation) • Groundwater contamination, e.g., Love Canal Technological Hazards • Four short case studies – Bhopal, India • poisonous gas release – Fukushima Dai-Ichi, Japan • cascading earthquake, tsunami, nuclear explosion – Love Canal, NY • toxic waste contamination – BP Gulf of Mexico • offshore drill rig explosion and oil spill Case Study: Bhopal • “Bhopal Gas Tragedy” – Worst peacetime chemical disaster ever – Factory owned and operated by UCIL • Timeline: – Dec. 2-3, 1984 – 27 tons of MIC leaked from Union Carbide pesticide factory – Approx. 8,000 killed, 1000s sickened – 1989: Union Carbide settles for $470 million with government of India – 2001: Union Carbide bought by Dow; refuses to accept criminal responsibility Bhopal • Accident? Negligence? or Sabotage? – Union Carbide/Dow maintain that the release could only have happened through sabotage. – Many safety systems had been turned off the previous month to save money. – Would this have happened in N. America or Europe? • Most recent: 8 convictions as of June, 2010 – 2 years for death by negligence – All Indian, former plant employees Bhopal •Has become an icon and a symbol of… –Globalization as a cause of environmental and social problems –Pollution by huge, callous multi-national corporations –Human rights denied to the poor and those who live in Third World countries –Environmental injustice Case Study: Fukushima Dai-Ichi •Fukushima Nuclear Disaster –Classic “cascading” event –Japan is perhaps the most prepared nation in the world •Timeline: –11 March 2011 Mw 9.0 Tōhoku earthquake •Epicentre just offshore from Honshu island •Megathrust subduction zone earthquake •Largest recorded eq in Japan, one of the five largest earthquakes ever since 1900 –Generated
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