Thursday, December 3, 2009

ERM-BC-COOP: December events


December has at least a couple of "moments to remember" for risk management practitioners.

Two "big" dates that quickly come to mind are December 3 and December 7.

On December 3, 1984, a methyl isocyanate gas leak from a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, spread over a populated area, resulting ultimately in 15,000 to 20,000 deaths and leaving some half million survivors with chronic medical ailments (Encyclopedia Britannica).

On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the Pearl Harbor Hawaii Navy installation and nearby U.S. air bases Hickam Field, Wheeler Field, Bellows Field, and Ford Island. According to Wikipedia, when the Japanese retired, 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 wounded. (By comparison, 2,976 civilian personnel were murdered by Islamic terrorists on September 11, 2001.)

A visit to list, day-by-day, some events that should deserve our attention but usually don't get it.

Bhopal probably is forgotten except those who live in Bhopal, Charleston WV, or similar chemical valley locations.

Ask an American born during or after the Korean "policing action" (from June 15, 1950) about December 7th and the all-too-frequent response is "huh?"

An enterprising Enterprise Risk Management practitioner (group) could easily put together an ERM calendar identifying Great Events in ERM for (almost) every one of the 365 days of the year - and yes, even a Leap Year's extra day.

The problem with The World is that it - we - have short memories. We fail to take Dwayne F. Schneider's (Pat Harrington Jr.), frequent admonishment on the sitcom "One Day at a Time" to "always remember and never forget." Put at a higher literary level, Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás wrote in Reason in Common Sense, volume 1 of The Life of Reason that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Just poking around the HISDATES.COM (ibid.) for December 1 turns up a number of notable entries. Some might seem unlikely for an ERM calendar of nasty happenings, but consider:

  • 2006 - Typhoon Durian kills at least 388 people in Albay province on the island of Luzon in the Philippines
  • 1996 - In a move that led to a public-relations disaster, America Online shifted to a flat $19.95-per-month fee for unlimited access (Everyone forgot about "New Coke"?)
  • 1995 - Michael Monus, the former president of the Phar-Mor drug store chain, was found guilty of embezzling roughly $1 billion from the company (Need for succession planning, image management, and alternate responders)
  • 1988 - 596 dead after cyclone hits Bangladesh, half a million homeless
  • 1983 - Rita Lavelle, former head of EPA, convicted of perjury (See 1995)
  • 1981 - 180 die as Yugoslav DC-9 jetliner slams into a mountain (Need policy preventing "key personnel" from traveling on same conveyance)
  • 1969 - US government holds its first draft lottery since WW II (Loss of personnel whose jobs are guaranteed by law; staffing difficulties)
  • 1967 - Wilt Chamberlain set NBA record of 22 free throws misses (thereby proving the need to continually practice (exercise) the plan)
  • 1958 - Our Lady of Angels School burns, killing 92 students and 3 nuns (Personnel unable to come to work; parents must attend to dead or injured children)
  • 1955 - Rosa Parks arrested for refusing to move to back of the bus (Civil unrest)
  • 1951 - Golden Gate Bridge closes due to high winds (Personnel unable to come to work; clients unable to visit sales area; vendors unable to deliver goods)
  • 1938 - School bus and train collide in Salt Lake City Utah (Personnel unable to come to work; parents must attend to dead or injured children; railroad service delayed)
  • 1913 - Continuous moving assembly line introduced by Ford (Competition changes processes to gain major advantage)
  • 1887 - Sino-Portuguese treaty recognizes Portugal's control of Macao (Government fiats impact regulations, business practices, import/export processes)
  • 1864 - Fire in Brisbane destroys city area bounded by Queen, George, Elizabeth and Albert streets
  • 1640 - Jews are expelled from Great Russia by Empress Elisabeth (massive loss of personnel, clients, income, possible shut-down of critical vendors all due to loss of personnel)

More about


Pearl Harbor


John Glenn, MBCI
Enterprise Risk Management practitioner
Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale Florida
Looking for staff or staff consulting opportunities working in, or from, southeast Florida

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