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Normal Accidents by Charles Perrow

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CHAPTER 7

Earthbound Systems: Dams, Quakes, Mines, and Lakes

In this chapter we will deal with the movement of large quantities of earth or water, whether deliberately or by accident. The production systems are primitive, compared to nuclear and chemical plants, and there are few unanticipated interactions in mines and virtually none in dams. Why, then, be concerned with these systems? First, it is useful to have some contrast to complex, tightly coupled systems to explicate and illustrate the value of our basic concepts. Dams have catastrophic potential, a matter of interest to us, but dam failures are not system accidents. The system is tightly coupled but very linear. Mining is a death-dealing activity, but the accidents are the prosaic ones ...

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