Friday, March 31, 2017

"Natural and Unnatural Disasters 3/11, Asbestos, and the Unmaking of Japan's Modern World" at Pitt on April 3, IUP on April 4.

Dr. Brett L. Walker of Montana State University will speak at the University of Pittsburgh on April 3 and Indiana University of Pennsylvania on April 4 on "Natural and Unnatural Disasters: 3/11, Asbestos, and the Unmaking of Japan's Modern World":
At 2:46 p.m. on March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake devastated northeastern Japan and caused one of Earth’s most dangerous nuclear catastrophes. Along with an enduring nuclear legacy, it also left an estimated 25 millions tons of rubble, much of it contaminated with asbestos and other carcinogenic toxins. Indeed, when the tides of the devastating tsunami ebbed, the unnatural disaster of cleaning up Japan’s pulverized and aerosolized built environment remained. Now, every time a backhoe or shovel digs into this rubble, asbestos fibers are released into the environment to threaten human health.

Japan's history of asbestos use contrasts with many other industrialized nations. Although the United States EPA began phasing out asbestos in the 1970s, Japan continued to chrysotile asbestos until 2004. Indeed, asbestos was a critical fiber in the construction of Japan's modern built environment because of the culturally engrained fear of fire. Professor Walker will examine asbestos in the construction and, more importantly, destrucution of Japan's built environment, with a focus on the impact of the 3/11 disaster and the later clean up.
The event at Pitt starts at 3:00 pm in 4130 Posvar Hall (map). The event at IUP runs from 3:30 to 5:30 pm in the Humanities and Social Sciences Building, Rm. 225. Both are free and open to the public.