Technological Hazards


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Technological Hazards


Technological Hazards

  • Smith Ch 13



Technological Hazards



Slow-Acting

  • soil and water contamination

  • air pollution

  • occupational disease

  • life-style disease



  • "Smoking is one of the leading causes of all statistics."

  • -- Liza Minnelli



  • “Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life.”

  • — Brooke Shields



Byssinosis victim, Greenville SC











Arsenic poisoning



Arsenic



London Smog Nov 1952





  • “It isn’t the pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in the air and water that are doing it.”

  • -- Dan Quayle



Aral Sea



Bangkok



  • Sudbury 1979



  • "Hollywood is the only place where you can wake up in the morning and hear the birds coughing in the trees."

  • -- Joe Frisco



Leaking USTs



  • British sewage sludge dumped at sea 1980s



Fast-Acting

  • major fires

  • structural failures

  • transportation accidents

  • industrial accident



Major conflagrations

  • 1666 Great Fire of London: 13,200 houses destroyed

  • 1871 Great Fire of Chicago: 18,000 homes destroyed



Dutch firework disaster



Hagersville ON 1990



London May 10-11 1941

  • Heaviest air raid on London in WW2

  • 35 Weeks into the London “Blitz”

  • 541 German aircraft involved

    • 700 tons of high explosive
    • 86 tons of incendiaries


London May 10-11 1941

  • 1436 Civilians killed

  • 1800 serious injuries

  • 2200 fires started, 700 acres burned (bigger than 1666)

  • 11000 homes destroyed



Major transport accidents

  • 1912 Titanic: 1,500 dead

  • 1914 Empress of Ireland



  • Empire State crash 1940s



Mississauga Train Derailment

  • November 1979 train carrying propane & chlorine derails

  • 250,000 evacuated





  • Amoco Cadiz 1978



Exxon Valdez





Major industrial accidents

  • 1769 San Nazzaro gunpowder explosion: 3,000 dead

  • 1858 Boiler explosion, London docks: 2,000 dead

  • 1906 Courrieres coal mine explosion: 1,099 dead

  • 1917 Halifax Explosion: 1,200+ dead



  • Toronto Oil Tank Fire 1911





Cubatao, Brazil 25 Feb 1984

  • 500 squatters die when petroleum spills from industrial plant and ignites shanty community



Mexico City, 19 Nov 1984

  • Liquified Petroleum Gas explosions at plant adjoining poor neighbourhood

  • 452 dead, 31,000 homeless, 300,000 evacuated



Bhopal, India 2-3 Dec 1984

  • India applying modern technology to farming

  • Leak of toxic Methyl Isocyanate gas from Union Carbide agrochemicals plant

  • Killed 2000 immediately, 6,400 total

  • 34,000 blinded, 200,000 injured

  • 200,000 refugees









Bhopal

  • Factory without US-standard safety measures

  • Large numbers of vulnerable people living close to the plant

  • No preparation to evacuate or protect population

  • Company able to offload much of the responsibility onto India



Bhopal

  • Union Carbide eventually pays $470 million US in compensation (1989)

  • Around $500 per injured person, $2000 per death

  • Victims face corruption in Indian legal and medical systems



Bhopal

  • Brought tighter controls in USA on chemical companies

    • US chemical companies shift production to LDCs






Exposure increases

  • More people living in dense urban areas and exposed to risk

  • More powerful technologies

  • Rapid pace of technological change:

    • new hazards in places unfamiliar with them


Road Deaths

  • 70% of all road deaths now in LDCs



Dubai











Globalization of industrial technology

  • Global spread of industrialization

  • Globalization of commercial farming

    • chemicals
  • From mid 1980s LDCs enter the big league for industrial accidents





Pesticides in Singapore



Spreading DDT on a Toronto Dump, Spring 1948



Protection increases

  • Engineering improves

  • Safety features improved

  • Improved safety regulation

    • Less in LDCs
    • Eroding in MDCs with reductions in public spending


Chernobyl 25-26 April 1986

  • Nuclear reactor accident in Belarus

  • Flawed plant design plus human incompetence

    • water-cooled graphite-modified
  • Radioactive steam blows the 1000 tonne cover off the reactor

    • fragments flung for 1 km
    • plume of radioactive gas enters upper atmosphere


Chernobyl 25-26 April 1986

  • US satellite surveillance incomplete

    • crucial hardware lost on the Space Shuttle Challenger
  • World has to observe the unfolding disaster on an old LANDSAT satellite

    • not designed to see things this small
    • sees two reactors
  • First western alarm: at a nuke plant in Sweden



Chernobyl 25-26 April 1986

  • 31+ die from radiation burns

  • 200+ seriously injured

  • 135,000 permanently evacuated within 35 km radius

  • Abandonment of Pripyat





Chernobyl 25-26 April 1986

  • Radioactive plume circles the globe within 2 weeks

  • Heaviest fallout in high-rainfall northern hemisphere

    • contamination of the arctic and subarctic food chains


Scrapbook of Technological Hazards



Weston Rd & Black Creek

  • Early C20th: flood-liable creek and quarries

  • Some waste disposal, landfilling, cheap housing

  • Hurricane Hazel 1954: extensive flooding

  • Black Creek placed in concrete channel

  • Metro and York Township landfill the quarries



Weston Rd & Black Creek

  • Expropriation of Porter Ave homes 1965

    • Michael Vukovitz


Weston Rd & Black Creek

  • Feb 1965: Landfill-methane explosion on Avon Ave

  • 1969: same garage explodes again

    • different man becomes human torch
  • Litigation: Gertson vs Borough of York 1973

    • Gertson won


Laidlaw’s Interflow subsidiary treating hazardous liquids on Hamilton waterfront in 1970s

  • Laidlaw’s Interflow subsidiary treating hazardous liquids on Hamilton waterfront in 1970s

    • Thermal treatment
    • Transfer station
    • Licensed to send region’s wastes to dump


Wastes hauled to Upper Ottawa St Landfill

  • Wastes hauled to Upper Ottawa St Landfill

    • operated by another Laidlaw company: KD Disposals
  • Upper Ottawa St Landfill leaks



Philip Services

  • 1990s secured contract to operate Hamilton’s water supply, sewage disposal

  • 1990s secured approval for Taro landfill, Stoney Creek



Philip Services

  • Taro Landfill accepts illegal plating wastes from US

    • Philip forcing city to allow Taro leachate in city sewers
  • Philip’s spills sewage into Harbour

  • Philip abandons Hamilton’s blue-box collection programme May 2001

    • Leaves City to pick up the pieces
  • Wonderful corporate behaviour



Global Acid Rain



Technological Hazards

  • Complex hazard spectrum

  • Significant role of human factors

  • Signs that the vulnerability and hazard exposure reflect broad societal changes:

    • urbanization
    • global industrialization





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