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    Urban vulnerability and technological hazards in developing societies.

    Quarantelli EL

    In: Environmental management and urban vulnerability, edited by Alcira Kreimer, Mohan Munasinghe. Washington, D.C., World Bank, 1992. 187-236. (World Bank Discussion Papers 168)

    Since 1950, only 13 acute chemical disasters in developing countries have resulted in more than 100 facilities or 1000 injured. The Bhopal, Indian, chemical poisoning that killed at least 2000 people is atypical. Some other accidents were unnoticed: 1) 10,000 people in Morocco in 1959 suffered from cooking oil contaminated with degraded lubricating oil, 2) 50,000 people were affected in Iraq in 1971 from exposure to methyl mercury, and 3) 7500 people were made ill in Pakistan in 1976 from a misuse of the insecticide malathion. Multiple risks are associated with producing, transporting, storing, using and disposing of dangerous chemicals. Nuclear plants, the transport of nuclear wastes over long distances, and the increasing byproducts of the deactivation of nuclear plants also pose risks. In the United States, by the year 2000, there will be about 47,900 metric tons of spent fuel, compared with 12,900 tons in 1985. There were 435 commercial nuclear plants in existence at the start of the 1990s with nearly 100 more under construction. Several computer-linked disasters in the United States as well as Japan have had negative chain reactions. In the 1970s the world became aware of nuclear power threats, in the 1980s of the chemical hazards risks, and the 1990s could witness a biotechnological disaster on the scale of Chernobyl or Bhopal in some developing country that has imported this new technology without instituting the safeguards. 96% percent of population growth is in developing countries with the growth of hugh cities by massive migration from rural to urban areas. The general implication is that to import more and improved disaster technology into developing countries can only address technological problems, and social problems can only be dealt with socially.
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