DJC Green Building Blog

Oso mudslide: Were the risks ignored?

Posted on April 3, 2014

The following post is by DJC staff:

Disaster-resiliency expert Stephen Flynn has posted a piece about the Oso mudslide on Northeastern University Seattle’s Re: Connect blog.
Flynn is a professor of political science and director of Northeastern’s Center for Resilience Studies in Burlington, Mass.

Oso mudslide

He spoke with the DJC in February about lessons from Hurricane Sandy and the need to better prepare for natural and manmade disasters.
In his post he says we tend to ignore the risk of disasters until they happen and says builders, developers and planners have a role to play in changing that.

He writes:

It is purposeful denial, bordering on negligence, which allows residential property development in dangerous areas. That negligence is fed by a self-destructive cycle that begins when builders and developers with short-term interests are granted local permits to build new homes on low-lying barrier islands, flood plains, or near steep hills in the wilderness. These homes then require investments in new public infrastructure, which in turn require additional tax revenues to build and sustain. In order to expand the tax base, towns end up approving new property development adding new fuel to growth. When the foreseeable disaster inevitably strikes, individual property owners are often wiped out and the American taxpayer ends up picking up most of the tab.

Read the whole thing here and tell us what you think.

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King County grant for spill “first aid” and 150 hazardous sites around Pioneer Square….

Posted on March 24, 2008

household hazardous waste disposalHumans aren't perfect. Machinery is big. Despite our very best efforts, sometimes things spill.

King County knows that but it also knows a quick response to fuel, oil and lubricant spills will stop the problem from getting bigger and (more importantly?) more expensive.

So the county, together with DBM Contractors, is offering a one-time $10,000 grant to the organization that develops and implements the best job site spill response protocol for minor spills. There's a catch though: only schools, special districts, tribes, local governments and private nonprofits are eligible to apply.

To all you bright private company professionals, would you apply for this grant if it were open to you? Would $10,000 be enough to illicit a response or is it not enough to make it worth your while? It seems to me like people that work near, about or around machines every day could have some pretty innovative ideas about how to fix this, so why leave them out of the running? Do you agree or am I way off the mark?

And another thing, one guideline says the protocol must primarily benefit King County. Nonprofits, local governments... would this help or hinder your interest in the project? For more info on the grant, go here.

And in Pioneer Square..... 

While we're on the topic of hazardous sites, I discovered a really interesting tool today called MapHazards that conveniently showed me the 150 hazardous sites around the area I work in (Pioneer Square) ranging from an old brownfield 250 feet away to leaking underground storage tanks to hazardous waste generators... before it annoyingly informed me this was just a sample and I had to pay for other reports (don't you hate that?!) See the report for my workspace here.

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