The BP Catastrophe and the Human Condition: Lessons from the ...
The BP Catastrophe and the Human Condition: Lessons from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill * Dr. J. Steven Picou Professor of Sociology University of South Alabama * This presentation is derived from the Final Report submitted to the National Science Foundation, Award Number: 0002572 by Dr. J. Steven Picou and Cecelia G. Martin, University of South Alabama
Background <ul><li>Over the last two decades: </li></ul><ul><li>Dr. Picou has studied the economic, social and psychological impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. </li></ul><ul><li>He has conducted random surveys of commercial fishing communities and Alaska Native villages in the years 1989-1992, 1995-1997, 2000, 2006, and 2009. This research was funded primarily by the National Science Foundation. </li></ul><ul><li>At present he is still researching community recovery in Alaska and will be interviewing fishermen in 2012. </li></ul>
Overview of the EVOS <ul><li>On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground on a well-marked reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska. </li></ul><ul><li>The supertanker leaked 11 million gallons of oil into one of the most pristine ecosystems on the planet. </li></ul><ul><li>The amount of oil spilled has been recently debated, with some documents suggesting that 24 to 36 million gallons were actually released. </li></ul><ul><li>Nonetheless, long term ecological impacts still exist as oil remains and fisheries, marine mammals and other species are being effected. </li></ul>
Community Impacts Documented in Alaska <ul><li>The specific impacts include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Chronic patterns of community disruption, resulting in the emergence of corrosive communities; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Resource-loss, Depression, Helplessness, Anxiety, Suicides; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Psychological stress, including symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Breakdown of social relationships resulting in inadequate coping skills, further exacerbating chronic patterns of psychological stress. </li></ul></ul>
Community Impacts Documented in Alaska <ul><li>These dramatic long-term impacts of technological disasters have been attributed to three primary factors for victims. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Concerns about government and corporate failure, resulting in loss of institutional trust; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Severe mental and physical health problems; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Continued reminders of the technological disaster and resulting toxic contamination are generated by toxic tort litigation and devastating “income loss spirals”. </li></ul></ul>
Economic Loss Spirals <ul><li>$155 million losses to PWS Fishery, 1989-1990 (Cohen, 1997). </li></ul><ul><li>1989: Gain of $39,382 per fisher. </li></ul><ul><li>1990-1994: Losses of $50,000 per year for 35% of Cordova fishers. </li></ul><ul><li>2009: 40% of fishers report continuing economic losses. </li></ul><ul><li>Permit devaluations averaged $250,000. </li></ul>
Chronic Impacts of the EVOS: Recent Impacts 2006 2009 Change EVOS caused serious financial problems 80% 72% -8 Intrusive thoughts over the last week 56% 63% +7 Sleep problems 14% 24% +10 Strong feelings about litigation 60% 57% -3 Feeling sad over last week 32% 44% +12 Could not get going 47% 47% nc Felt lonely 29% 31% +2
Chronic Impacts of EVOS, 2009 <ul><li>Community has become more fragmented 47% </li></ul><ul><li>Local economy has gotten worse 81% </li></ul><ul><li>Litigation caused unpleasant memories 76% </li></ul><ul><li>Supreme Court Decision unfair 92% </li></ul><ul><li>Money received allows recovery 14% </li></ul><ul><li>Friends drink too much because of EVOS 40% </li></ul>
Traditional Natural & Technological Disaster Stage Models * Natural Disasters Technological Disasters Warning Warning Threat Threat Impact Impact ? Rescue Rescue ? Inventory Inventory ? Remedy Remedy ? Recovery Recovery ? Rehabilitation Rehabilitation * S.R Couch, 1996. “Environmental Contamination, Community transformation and The Centrulia Mine Fire” in J.K.Mitchell (ed.) The Long Road to Recovery . Tokyo. UN Press
Corrosive Community <ul><li>The dysfunctional effects of technological disasters on impacted communities characterized by the breakdown of social relationships, the fragmentation of community groups, family conflict and the use of self-isolation as a primary coping strategy. The lack of sympathetic behavior from non-victims, combined with declining support capabilities of local mental health programs, results in a pattern of continuing deterioration of community culture and organization. </li></ul>
Therapeutic Community * . * Freudenberg, W.R. and T.R. Jones. 1991. “Attitudes and Stress in the Presence of Technological Disaster: A Test of the Supreme Court Hypothesis” Social Forces 69(4) 1143-1168. The socially integrative effects disasters have on an impacted community in the aftermath of disaster characterized by an outpouring of altruistic feelings and behavior. The therapeutic community includes the generally sympathetic behavior on the part of non-victims which helps compensate for the sorrow and stress many community members are experiencing with an unexpected abundance of personal warmth and direct help. 4
The Corrosive Social Cycle of Disasters * Culture Interpersonal values and norms Prolonged Recovery Social Structure Intergroup Relations Prolonged Recovery *Picou, J.S. and B.K. Marshall. 2007. “Katrina as Paradigm Shift” In D. Brunsama, D. Overfelt and J.S. Picou. The Sociology of Katrina. Rowman-Littlefield Publishers.
The Therapeutic Cycle * * Chamlee-Wright, Emily. 2006. After the Storm: Social Capital Regrouping in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina . Global Prosperity Initiative. Arlington, VA: Mercatus Center, George Mason University.
Mean Intrusive Stress Scores of Cordova Residents, 1989-2009
In a Wednesday, May 19, 2010 photo, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and La. Gov. Bobby Jindal tour through the Roseau Grasses that mark the coastline of Southeast Louisiana at Pass a Loutre at the mouth of the Mississippi River where oil has washed ashore. (AP Photo/The Times-Picayune, Ted Jackson)
The state's emergency management site posted this photo of a tar mat about 75 yards long and 12 feet wide, spotted today in the Ono Island channel in the Perdido Bay area. (Florida Department of Emergency Management) West of the Pensacola Beach Gulf Fishing Pier the beaches along the 1000 block of Fort Pickens Road are covered with oil Wednesday afternoon, 6/23/2010. (Bruce Granerfirstname.lastname@example.org)
http://photos.al.com/mobile-press-register/2010/04/waiting_for_word_1.html http://photos.al.com/mobile-press-register/2010/04/emotional_news.html Families Awaiting Word, April 22, 2010
THE IMPACTS OF THE BP SPILL <ul><li>Regional Economic </li></ul><ul><li>Community Social Capital </li></ul><ul><li>Family Stability </li></ul><ul><li>Individual Mental Health </li></ul>
Resources Available to Your Community <ul><li>The User Friendly Guide Book For Technological Disasters. An important resource available at: pwsrcac.org Dr. Picou’s website: www.stevenpicou.com These materials will be helpful to organizations, local government, families and individuals in your community. </li></ul>