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Friday, September 23, 2005

A tale of two disasters.

The Post's opinion pages has a comparison between Katrina and Chernobyl today. I was going to just highlight one of the comparisons I found funny, but I see they don't actually have the article online. So, here, manually typed in, is the entire article:

"Katrina vs. Chernobyl," by Richard Rhodes and Gwyneth Cravens.

Similarities

  • Katrina: Levees neglected despite years of warnings of damage a major storm could cause.
  • Chernobyl: Reactor not upgraded despite multiple previous accidents in similar plants.

  • Katrina: Breach of levees: poor design, overconfidence, federal budget cuts.
  • Chernobyl: Reactor expolosion: poor design, overconfidence, construction material shortages.

  • Katrina: New Orleans submerged in contaminated water; billions of dollars in damage.
  • Chernobyl: Widespread radioactive fallout from burning reactor; billions of dollars in damage.

  • Katrina: No protective clothing for local rescue workers.
  • Chernobyl: No protective clothing for local rescue workers.

  • Katrina: Helicopters dropping sand into levee breaches.
  • Chernobyl: Helicopters dropping sand into burning reactor crater.

  • Katrina: FEMA director's previous experience: horse shows. Friend of a friend of the president.
  • Chernobyl: Chernobyl director's previous experience: party hack. Promoted after another reactor exploded on his watch.

  • Katrina: Media coverage overrides attempted political spin.
  • Chernobyl: Dispersing radiation plume overrides attempted coverup.

  • Katrina: Contractors and lobbyists roaming Washington and Baton Rouge, La.
  • Chernobyl: Wolves and feral dogs roaming exclusion zone.

Differences

  • Katrina: National leadership response delayed by disbelief, poor coordination, vacations.
  • Chernobyl: National leadership response immediate.

  • Katrina: President Bush tours Gulf Coast five days after storm hits, avoiding New Orleans.
  • Chernobyl: Two Politburo members reach Chernobyl within 48 hours to direct rescue operations.

  • Katrina: 475 buses delayed two days before evacuating 30,000 flood victims from Superdome Evacuation stretches across four days.
  • Chernobyl: 1,216 buses, 300 trucks arrive overnight to evacuate 35,000 residents of Pripyat reactor community. Evacuation completed in one afternoon.

  • Katrina: Delayed and inadequate emergency response, lack of coordination seriously hamper relief.
  • Chernobyl: Quick decisions, good coordination, rapid response remove most of surrounding population from harm.

  • Katrina: Roving gangs of armed criminals, random violence, derelict police officers.
  • Chernobyl: Unarmed and cooperative population, minimal disorder.

  • Katrina: Toll of preventable deaths: 1,069, according to the Associated Press, as of yesterday, and still counting.
  • Chernobyl: Toll of preventable deaths 19 years later: 60.

Richard Rhodes is the author of "The Making of the Atomic Bomb." Gwyneth Cravens's examination of nuclear energy misconceptions, "The Hollow Mounatin," is to be published in 2006.

As published in today's Washington Post.

I'll leave the professional bloggers to dissect this, if anyone reads it, that is.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Be prepared for the next hurricane katrina path or find another one that's similar. As the Boy Scouts say: "Be Prepared"!

Online Wong PoKér Hu said...

Chernobyl was still worse in my opinion. we have to consider that Katrina was natural and the effects are only detrimental in the short run. However, what happened in Chernobyl will forever affect the people because of ther radiation emitted when the plant exploded.