Thursday, April 3, 2014

What Lies Beneath


The recovery dig in Oso, Washington continues this week. Flood waters caused by the damming of the river with landslide debris are beginning to recede as the river reestablishes it's course and as they do, they take with them a toxic mess of chemicals, effluents, and wastes. The landslide, in upending the community, also upended cans of oil and paint, antifreeze, fertilizer, gasoline, medications and sewage from septic tanks. As in many natural disasters, the the site itself has become a hazard to those working it and downstream of it. And it is not just the release of toxic materials to the water causing the health risk, the very nature of standing water, and the odd stew of modern life that steeps in it is enough to foster illness in those that remain to pick up the pieces. It is an unfortunate and ironic irony. Looking at the torn pile of debris, roof beams, cars, mattresses, and televisions encased in mud, it is hard to imagine they will find anything useful. It is hard to imagine they will find a person. Perhaps it is time to consider the cost of recovery work, especially in terms of emotional toll health risk to workers. Those that were lost were, tragically, buried in place, so what is it that we are looking for?

No comments:

Post a Comment