A Hazardous Inquiry essay

The book entitled A Hazardous Inquiry: The Rashomon Effect at Love Canal written by Allan Mazur distinctively relays the reality of Love Canal from the viewpoint of the key players. Love Canal is situated in Niagara Falls, New York, is now well-known in the environmental community, and was an empty canal, operated as a chemical dumping site in the 1940s and 50s. As soon as hazardous chemicals were dumped in the canal, it was packed in and set to the city of Niagara Falls by Hooker Chemical Company. The city used the land to construct an elementary school and housing.

Two decades passed, hazardous chemicals were dripping from the canal and mounting to the surface. In 1978, and around 1980, families were evacuated from the area that was not all that dangerous. The author gets the idea or phrase “Rashomon Effect” from the title of the classic Japanese film, Rashornon, in which witnesses to the same event conflict each other. The author proposes that one must scrutinize actions leading up the predicament at Love Canal from the point of view of all performers before maintaining to appreciate what took place.

For this reason, he individually considers accounts entered from the point of view of the distinctive actors, consisting of Hooker Chemical Company, which puts down the toxic wastes and give details why it consequently contributed the dump as the site for a new school; the local Board of Education, which assumed ownership of the site having knowledge that it should not be developed; the David Axelrod, New York’s embattled commissioner of the Department of Health who is at odds with the homeowners over their assessment of the hazards and the proper extent of the state’s response and who discovered itself at the core of a scientific and political outbreak; a local reporter, Michael Brown, who developed the story in the Niagara Gazette and eventually brought the problem of toxic waste to national attention and who stood-in as an supporter for the residents; and residents, who did not constantly have the similar interests. The procedure was successful. Not only does it facilitate to communicate the difficulties surrounding Love Canal, nevertheless it as well agrees to Mazur to discretely evaluate every account.

The various reports of dealings directing up to the crisis seldom disagree with each other. Instead, several actors’ concentrates on different parts of the article, make clear what is unidentified to their advantage, and-in a number of cases, influence the truths just sufficient not to be downright deceptive. In this book, surprisingly includes Mazur’s strict criticism of previous documentaries on Love Canal and his conduct of Lois Gibbs, the housewife that turned– activist who emerge as a central figure in those documentaries and whose son attended the school, reveals of managing the community to contest both the chemical threat and the insensible state bureaucracy.

The author proposes that Gibbs, who stayed in the so-called outer ring, competently revived the predicament as soon as it apparently had been determined by a decision in 1978 to transfer the residents from an inner ring of homes. The Governor of New York that time was in agreement to purchase their homes. In looking for the identical action for homeowners in the outer ring, Gibbs made specifically efficient use of the media or the reporters following an inadequately controlled pilot chromosome-damage report brought by residents to the limit of madness. In the end, the federal government decided to purchase homes in the outer ring additionally.

When the readers hear the words Love Canal, probably they quickly react, remembering a society or area poisoned by toxic waste. Two decades after the occurrence, the author re- assess the situations that made this upstate New York immediate area the same with ecological misfortune and prompted federal “Superfund” legislation to clear out the nation’s thousands of hazardous waste places. The author’s understanding can most excellently be illustrated as much objection about nothing. There is no criminal; there is no leading actor. The author accomplishes what he sets out to accomplish —an independent examination of the reality. He presumes that no person should be held responsible but instead the culpability should be stretch out equally among all concerned parties.

He considers that these parties did not intend to do injustice, but to a certain extent that their actions created unanticipated consequences. He draws a safe, unproductive assumption that does not make easier to us in any way to get out of such catastrophes in the upcoming days. We bring to an end of Mazur’s account believing as powerless as we did as soon as we started. There is no clarification. There is no culpability. And as a consequence, we feel no determination. The author’s obsession with neutrality directs to a supposition that justifies those corporations that deposit chemicals and makes it easier for institutions to circumvent responsibility for irresponsible actions.

It may be unacceptable to be objective when the one fact that is deliberately obvious is the one reality that the author of this book disregards, possibly because this truth cannot be efficiently clarified, justified and verified. In telling that the risk produced in Love Canal to the majority abandoned inhabitants was cracked out of ratio, Allan Mazur did not consider the threats of chemical pollution delicately, and even did not free anybody of the liability. As a matter of fact, Mazur is not much concerned in passing on the culpability than in examining the administrative or management practice from the point of view of the persons who were compelled to do something immediately on the materials that was equally lacking and being briskly handled by all who were interested. Rashomon is the title of the first chapter of the book.

Allan Mazur expresses a traditional movie of Japan having the name in which there are four members explain that the occurrence is in a manner that adjusts or give reasons for the behavior of the persons involved while throwing fault or guilt on the other person. In this chapter, entitled Rashomon, it has basically four main actors. Hence, it is simple to convey the article from every one’s point of view. Using this method is unrealistic for a true happening where several individuals and associations are concerned. The second chapter of the book entitles “Love’s Canal,” put the last touches on the circumstances and conditions of the book. In this chapter, Allan Mazur makes available, the background of the subject matter, and also by providing a map and above ground images.

Mazur, however, did not allow his readers to be in a hanging situation. Or probably he ought to; however, in the last portion of this book which is an interesting and demanding book, Mazur presents an afterthought and four divisions or chapters. And to quote Mazur’s comments: “My apportioning of blame is fairly equitable. I have spread it around… , and few are exempt. …. I believe that most parties… acted reasonably well, under the circumstances, and despite some blatant lapses. Love Canal was a tragedy in the classic sense… because actions that were — for the most part — personally moral or professionally acceptable combined in unexpected ways to produce inordinate misery. ”

After reading this book, a simple analysis or thought might arise… if A Hazardous Inquiry happen as expected only in making the readers appreciate and realize why a single form or type of that occurrence at Love Canal obtained preference more than all others, it is probably be very useful to attorneys, reporters, scientists, legislators, environmentalists, and to the inhabitants held up in technical arguments that took place in the public field. Nevertheless the book progress further than that to assess and resolve the inconsistent descriptions of Love Canal, presenting the readers a complete, if more complicated, representation than endlessly before. Over and done with fascinating personal tales, the book tells us how journalism and epidemiology and politics occasionally fit together, but frequently disagree, as soon as challenging a possible community catastrophe. The author has taken an exciting methodology to position out the concerns on Love Canal: the Rashomon Effect, passing on hoop to screening the identical condition from numerous points of view.

Concerning this issue the prospect are the public health community, the company concerned, the local citizenry and the school board that made the school. As possibly be projected, every one has an uncommon observation, and selected individual look as if more approaching with information than other individual. Allan Mazur has barely placed out the details of the situation and the points of view of the main characters, but took, with goodness of perception, explained, to a remarkable coverage as possible, the so-called truth of the circumstances. There are quite a few ordinary spectators intended for this book. On behalf of those fascinated in the account of the environmental development, possibly this book is an exceptional background for appreciating the previous time of interest.

This book is also intended for those paying attention in environmental science and medicine, so as this book will strengthen the comprehension of how and why science ought to be of the supreme quality, exactly as much for environmental matters as for examinations of new antibiotics or vaccines. This book is also designed for programs involved in hazardous communication, the vulgarity of the political subject, or the media. Further, this book has more to suggest, despite the fact that the lessons realized may perhaps sound make the individual or readers discontented in the process of their understanding.


Mazur, A. (1998) A Hazardous Inquiry: The Rashomon Effect at Love Canal. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.