This book examines community responses to types of industrial disasters that, going far beyond the routine, constitute “surprise” disasters. These disasters are producing unprecedented consequences, and they are emerging faster and lasting longer than ever before.
This conclusion is the result of long-term case-studies of seven highly publicized industrial disasters that occurred between 1949 and 1989–the mercury contamination in Minamata, Japan; the underground fires in Centralia, Pennsylvania; the airborn dioxin release at Seveso, Italy; the poison gas cloud in Bhopal, India; the nuclear reactor fire at Chernobyl, Ukraine; the destruction of Iran’s oil facilities during the war with Iraq; and the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.
The book stresses the need for long-term post-disaster assessment and the creation of information clearing-houses that focus on industrial disaster surprises. These and other proposals show how recovery systems can accommodate the lingering impacts of chronic industrial disasters and the unpredictable changes ahead.