182 Engineering Ethics: An Industrial Perspective
and other waters near U.S. shores. This enhanced tsunami warning system,
which will cost $37.5 million, is expected to be fully operational by mid 2007
(Williamson, 2005; Ross, 2005).
On June 30, 2005, the United Nations ocean commission agreed to work
with 27 countries on a similar tsunami warning system for the Indian
Ocean. The network, which is expected to operational by July 2006, is
being financed by the individual countries, often with large injections of
foreign aid (AP, 2005b).
There are no applicable regulations.
AN ENGINEERING PERSPECTIVE
Samith Thammasaroj, a native Thai citizen, studied electrical and elec-
tronics engineering at the University of Vermont. There he changed his
name to Smith. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in 1962, he returned
to Thailand and joined the Thai Meteorology Service (AP, 2005a). Quickly
mastering Thailand’s predictable weather patterns, which revolve around
wet and dry seasons, Thammasaroj decided to focus his spare energy on
seismology. He began to study earthquakes and tsunamis, even though
they were not considered a major problem in Thailand.
As he rose up the ranks of the meteorology department, Thammasaroj
ordered staff to begin collecting earthquake data. He traveled to China to
meet with seismologists. Noting that every tsunami he studied in the Pacific
had been initiated by an earthquake of at least 7.4 in magnitude,
Thammasaroj came to believe that a tsunami was possible locally because
of pressures mounting along the region’s fault lines. More disturbingly, the
popular tourist area Phuket (south of Khao Lak) was in the direct path of a
likely tsunami (Barta, 2005). In a letter to the Director-General of the
Department of Local Administration, he presented some worst case sce-
nario measures for official consideration. His letter also included a 10-point
plan on tsunami preparation. Three of the 10 points that could have saved
many lives were: (7) the need for a tsunami disaster drill, (9) public instruc-
tion on techniques that would help reduce tsunami damage, and (10)
government agency creation of advance plans to deal with tsunamis. None
of these recommendations was implemented.
Later, after Thammasaroj became Deputy Permanent Secretary of the
now-defunct Communications Ministry, he wrote a letter of complaint to
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