The Michigan Daily - Friday, December 7, 1984 - Page 11
India deaths ht danger of Third World indust
From The Associated Press
A trio of shocking Third World
tragedies - more than 2,000 people
gassed or burned to death in India,
Mexico and Brazil - shows how in-
dustrialiration often outruns environ-
mental and safety controls in
In all three of this year's industrial
disasters, poor slumdwellers were the
victims, and their crowded conditions
multiplied the death toll from the fires
or poisonous fumes.
SQUATTERS in countless Third
World cities are clustered on land no
one else wants - including areas
around dangerous fuel or chemical
sites. Some nations do not have zoning
laws separating industrial and residen-
tial areas. In those that do have con-
trols, safety inspection and enfor-
cement is often lax.
"In the Third World, even if there are
environmental regulations, they are
hard to enforce. It's a problem of man-
power and resources," said Richard
Golob, Boston-based editor of the
Hazardous Materials Intelligence
Report, which monitors spills and other
industrial accidents worldwide.
"And governments are not in a
position to tighten regulations since in
many areas the industry involved is the
main source of income," Golob said in a
THE DANGERS in these unregulated
environments are sometimes more in-
sidious than explosive: deadly wastes
from industrial plants that slowly
poison the air or drinking water.
For years, a United Nations com-
mission has been trying to develop an
industrial "code of conduct" to en-
courage greater environmental safety
in the Third World.
"Developing countries still remain
poorly equipped to manage and protect
their environments," acknowledged a
researcher involved in the U.S. work,
who spoke on condition of anonymity.
MONDAY'S disaster in the central
Indian city of Bhopal may have been
the deadliest industrial accident
worldwide in recent years.
An American-built insecticide plant
leaked poisonous gas that within hours
killed or fatally injured at least 1,200
local residents, and blinded, sterilized
or otherwise sickened thousands of
others. Many victims lived in a teeming
slum adjacent to the plant.
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi
later said his government would ban
production of dangerous material in
heavily populated areas.
POTENTIALLY hazardous facilities
are scattered throughout India's
crowded cities. After a cooking-gas
plant exploded last year in New Delhi,
killing more than 30 people, gover-
nment officials said it would be moved,
but it still operates in the same location.
The Brazilian and Mexican disasters
both involved squatters and gover-
nment petroleum companies.
In the southern Brazilian town of
Cubatao last Feb. 25, fire from leaking
gasoline pipeline incinerated the flimsy
huts of hundreds of squatters on the
surrounding marshland. About 500
people were killed, investigators con-
ON Nov. 19 in Mexico City, storage
tanks at a liquid petroleum gas facility
exploded in a firestorm that devastated
a housing area packed with poor
Mexicans, many of them squatters. At
least 452 people were killed.
In the Mexican case, the gas-
distribution complex was there before
the houses, but no zoning regulations
existed to prevent the residential area
from rising up within 200 yards of the
dangerous site. In the United States, at
a similar site outside Houston, residen-
ces are more than a mile away.
In Brazil, prosecutors blamed the
national energy company, Petrobras,
for not acting to evict the squatters
from th government-owned land. But
Petrobras President Shigeaki Ueki, ac-
cused of personal responsibility in the
case, blamed society as a whole.
"WE are all at fault because we
should construct housing in the most
secure areas to induce people to move
to those locales," he has been quoted as
As in Mexico, a commission was for-
med in Brazil to study ways to avert
future industrial disasters, "but so far
nothing has come of these commissions
and I doubt if something ever will,"
said local Brazilian environmental
agency spokesman Jose Magalbaes.
One grieving slumdweller in the
stricken Indian city told an Associated
Press reporter: "There's no way for us
to live anywhere else. Even now, where
is the lard? Where is the money?"
Other recent Third World accidents
listed by Golob's newsletter:
" On Aug. 31, 1983, a gasoline-laden
Mourners kneel at the side of one of the more than 1,600 victims of Monday's poisonous gas leak in Bhopal, India. The
incident has sparked an investigation into the safety of Third World industrial growth.
train exploded while stopped in Pojuca,
Brazil, killing 99 people. The victims
had been trying to collect fuel leaking
from the tanker cars.
* On May 15, 1981, a gas pipeline ex-
ploded in San Rafael de Laya,
Venezuela, killing 18 people and in-
* On June 5, 1980, chemical cylinders
blew up at Port Kelang, Malaysia,
killing three and injuring 200 people.
In some cases, environmentalists
claim, industries in developed nations
intentionally move their safety hazards
to Third World countries where few
Some example they cite: the dum-
ping of dangerous PCB wastes in
Mexico by American companies, the
building of oil refineries on tiny Carib-
bean islands to overcome the fear of
spill in the United States, and the shif-
ting of much of Australia's asbestos
processing to nearby Indonesia, where
controls on the dangerous material are
not as tight.
Poorer nations with lower standards
"could well become international dust-
bins," said the United Nations' chief
environmental official, Mostafa Kamal
Tolba, in a 1983 report.
The 48-nation U.S. Commission on
Transnational Corporations is con-
sidering a code of conduct that would
call on multinational industries to move
toward making their environmental
safety programs in Third World nations
as rigorous as those in their home coun-
The U.S. General Assembly is to
debate the issue later in its current fall
Lisa Birnbach: Revisiting
the schools she reviewed
SDENVER, Co. (CPS) - Snugly en-
sconced in an elegant downtown Den-
ver hotel room, Lisa Birnbach, road-
weary and fidgety, devours equal doses
of ice-blue throat lozenges and Vantage
t Her new perm has failed, and the cold
she's fighting is winning.
BUT WHILE this promotional tour
for her new book, "The College Book,"
is taking a toll, Birnbach is resolutely
cheerful and outspoken.
Birnbach has been on the road for
much of the past four years, first
+ promoting her 1981 best-seller, "The
Preppie Handbook," than researching
s and promoting "The College Book,"
released this September.
In the last three years, she has run an
exhausting gauntlet, exploring nearly
300 campuses in 50 states for the book.
THE RESULTS are reviews of 186
schools' programs, environments and
student populations, interspersed with
charts, graphs, quizzes and essays
designed to help students weather the
storms of higher education.
While college officials from Califor-
nia to Florida are attacking "The
College Book" as a "sloppy, inaccurate
piece of work," and calling it "frivolous
and silly," the author this month star-
ted a national tour of schools to promote
Even the schools dismissing her work
as sloppy and abysmal are inviting her
back, anticipating an updated edition in
BIRNBACH, for example, last week
handily charmed an audience at In-
diana University of Pennsylvania,
which she'd condemned in her book as
home of the ugliest male students in
"A lot of schools that aren't happy
with what I wrote are assailing my
research techniques and condeming the
book," Birnbach admits. "But I have
not been disinvited, uninvited or con-
demned to the point where they don't
want me back."
"I think the book tiptoes a fine line
between being informative and
amusing," she contends. "It's a fun
book and should be read as a fun book.
But there are some serious points."
"EVERYTHING in terms of values is
so different," she sighs. "Money is the
biggest factor in the lives of American
college students right now. In the
seventies, when I attended college, a
great job was to work at PBS in Boston.
Now, a great job is simply something
that pays $24,000 upon graduation."
But a certain amount of direction is
good, Birnbach concedes. "It's better
than no direction, which is what a lot of
us had in the sixties and seventies."
Good friends won't leave you flat.
The idea for the book came to her
while on a campus lecture tour for "The
"I WROTE an article for 'Rolling
Stone' about the mood on campuses in
the 1980s," she explains. "It seemed
like a natural move for me to write the
book since I was going to campuses
Birnbach applied formally to every
school on her list, approaching each
through official channels and
requesting time to conduct her resear-
Only one school, Washington and Jef-
ferson College in Pennsylvania, refused
BIRNBACH's critics claim she
wasn't on any campus long enough to
write credible reviews. Others are
angered by her pronouncements.
Her claim that the Iowa State campus
is "fraught with sameness" and "filled
with students who look alike" drew
howls of protest from ISU ad-
ministrators who conclude the book is
"probably filled with inaccuracies and
Florida State University officials
claim Birnbach's FSU review listed
inaccurate SAT scores, misspelled a
residence hall name and named a
"famous murderer" as an alum when
he had never attended the school.
A FRANKLIN and Marshall Univer-
sity spokesman says "The factual
errors are just appalling, bad enough to
call into question the thoroughness of
her research and her credibility."
"I wasn't there to trash the school,"
Birnbach hopes her campus lecture
tour, which began at her alma mater,
Brown University, will help her judge
the effects of "The College Book."
A WAY TO FIGHT BACK
World OranizariuTn o Restore Malt Suprrmanc
THE MALES OF THE WORLD ARE
COMING OUT OF THEIR HOLES.
ONLY S5.95 GIVES YOU A
LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP CERTIFICATE,
CARD & WORMS PIN.
PRINT FULL NAME & ADDRESS
MAIL CHECK OR M.O. TO
BOX 4790G N. HOLLYWOOD. CA. 91607
Please add 75 shipping & handling
CARRY OUT & FREE DELIVERY
WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO LIMIT OUR DELIVERY AREA
Packard (at Hill-Main Campus) 665-6005
Maiden Lane (at Broadway-North Campus) 995-9101
-1 eE DU .L UI Ua UL
V L.LLC L 11'. L %U J11 1 .J. L...L4..LJ'.1 . J OL CL4Jy °~