It is always interesting to me to note that there is a much different response to how the media and public treat different types of disasters and dangers.
Recently, a Boeing 777 crashed on landing. The reason seems to be human error. The emergency evacuation protocol worked reasonably well. Two lives were lost. As with almost any plane accident, the media has been all over this.
When an incident happens at a nuclear plant, even a minor one, it makes headlines.
Nobody has been killed by an accident at a nuclear power plant Nobody has died as a result of a reactor malfunction or has any member of the public been killed by an accident at a nuclear power plant since Chernobyl, but when there is even a small risk, it seems to dominate the headlines.
Yet trains carry dangerous chemical cargo day in and day out. Given the number of shipments, the safety record is reasonably good. Its not perfect, however, and people can and do die when trains derail and cause explosions or release massive amounts of toxic material. Trains carrying dangerous cargo go traverse cities and towns on a daily basis. Few, if any complain about this, but if you dare consider placing something radioactive on one, you can expect to face furious opposition.
Two days ago a train carrying petroleum products derailed in Quebec, resulting in an explosion and fire. At least 13 people are confirmed dead. Many more are missing.
Here, on the east coast of the US, which is not far at all from the event, the disaster was not the lead story on the news or even the second story. It was not buried on page five of the paper, but it was not on the front page either. It was on page two or three. Most people, who do not pay a great deal of attention to the news, are likely unaware of it and, in a year, I would expect it will be largely forgotten.
I do not mean to make light of this. Certainly it is a terrible event, and, almost certainly, there were safety procedures or protocols that were either not followed or broke down. It should not have happened. But it did and it does. Industrial accidents happen. When they involve massive amounts of chemical energy, it’s just not something that holds the public’s attention.
By the way, this should not be seen as a reason to oppose petroleum pipelines, but quite the opposite. Pipelines, especially modern ones recently built, are far and away the safest way of transporting petroleum. They rarely fail, and when they do, it is a leak that is not nearly as violent and is usually quickly contained.
This entry was posted on Monday, July 8th, 2013 at 11:47 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Culture, media, Misc. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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