Sociology of risks: lessons learn from “Vajont Dam Disaster”

I just watched a documentary on Vajont dam disaster in National Geografhics. It was said that locals knew before the disaster that the mountain has suffered  landslides in the past. Actually, the mountain was called “the walking mountain”. Nevertheless, the dam was build, in a context of postwar and needs of energy to fuel the economic growth experienced in the country between 1950 and 1960. A few lesson in relation to risk management and communication, non-knowledge and the role of social science in engineering projects (see the role of those specialized in collecting and understanding narratives and local stories): A socially robust construction process, i.e. the involvement of locals in the construction, would have gain relevant information that was unknown by scientists. Information that was present in the collective memory of the town. Hence, locals could have taken part in the knowledge production. Secondly, engineers involved in the construction knew that the the land had been sliding gradually throughout the two months before the disaster. They simply did not count with such a huge tsunami due to wrong estimation. They even knew that the landslide was going to take place sooner or later. Even though, they did not inform locals about this fact. Finally, the wave overpass the dam in 200 meters and destroy the whole valley. This event reminds that science faces, in many occasions, gaps of knowledge or the so called non-knowledge. As in this occasion, policymakers and scientist frequently communicate that decisions have to be based on reliable scientific knowledge and that the acknowledgement of uncertainties would “undermine the public´s confidence in scientific results” (Gross, 2010, p.2)


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/76140299″>Vajont Dam Disaster</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/framepool”>Framepool</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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