The Aberfan Effect

The Welsh village of Aberfan suffered one of the worst mining disasters when a huge slag heap at the edge of town collapsed and covered the local school killing 144 people, mostly children.

The pressures for enhanced profits caused short cuts to be taken disregarding environmental conditions. Warning signs of instability of the slag heaps were ignored. The surroundings were dotted with these mountains which was not only unsafe but unsightly.

Surprisingly after the disaster the local populace figured out a way to remove these eyesores, proving that this could have been done earlier and preventing the tragedy.

For all those years the populace lived with ugly mounds, when they could have been replaced by a pleasant surrounding.

You can read a fuller account here.

Moral: Don't foul your own nest.

I call the failure to learn this lesson the Aberfan Effect.

Don't the business and political leaders have to live in this world too?
Do they want their children raised in dangerous, polluted conditions?
What does the extra profit do them if they can't enjoy their surroundings?
Are they immune to environmental poisons like Arsenic in the drinking water
and Mercury emissions from coal power plants?

Have we learned from this? Apparently not, here's a small list of similar disasters:

The Berkeley Pit Copper Mine, Butte MT

Hudson River PCB Contamination

Hanford Nuclear Weapons Site

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant

Mercury Emissions from Coal Power Plants

Buffalo Creek Flood

Kingston Fossil Plant coal fly ash slurry spill

And a group that is fighting back:

Sludge Safety Project


If you have a disaster or comments you would like to add email me at robert.feinman@gmail.com
Click here to see all my essays in context.
Copyright © 2004-9 Robert D Feinman
Feel free to use the ideas, but the words are mine.