Taking Flight:‘Into the Wild, Blue Yonder!’
PArt Four - Infrastructure Risk Management
No evaluation of risk-manag- ing the nation’s infrastruc- ture would be complete without an examination of
air—that we breath, we fly through in
aircraft—and the solid earth over which
and onto which that air or craft returns.
Exploring the air and outer space takes us
full circle to the first of this series and the
discussion of clean energy, if our earth is
to survive, we must have fresh, clean and
But along with an unpolluted atmo-
sphere, we must have the ability (since
the early 20th century) to move safely
through the air in something faster than
a balloon—and, in the latter half of that
century and the remainder of the current
one—the ability to move through our so-
lar system. It is all infrastructure, from the
trees that convert carbon dioxide (CO²)
to oxygen, and the scrubbers on power
plant smoke stacks to the luxurious jet-
liners that fly us over the nation and to
foreign lands, to the rocket ships that
will one day carry us to Mars. All of it is
expensive and at great risk, and that risk
must be managed.
The Air We Breath
Perhaps the most reviled federal agency, by at least one of the political parties,
is the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA). Created by Congress to monitor
and assess land, water and air pollution,
the EPA formulates regulations designed
to prevent pollution of these resources.
Entire chapters of my insurance claims
textbooks deal with how to handle various types of pollution claims, and an
entire insurance industry segment has
developed to insure against such claims.
The courts are full of disputes over those
policy wordings: what is, or is not, a “
pollutant” under a CGL policy? When does
the coverage apply, in a long-term leak?
Not all courts agree. Despite political
bickering and finger-pointing, protection
of the environment has a huge impact on
the nation and every industry including
aviation, and not just insurance must deal
I referred to this when discussing the
problem of burning fossil fuels to produce electricity in my January column.
Those electric company smokestacks are
not alone in belching out the pollutants,
as our automobiles, homes, factories, and
even our animals produce gases that pollute. Humans alone account for tons of
methane gas produced annually.
It was the release of methyl isocyanine
insecticide gas that caused the Bhopal, India, disaster a few decades ago, the effects
of which are still being felt by the victims
and by Union Carbide India Corp. and
the insurers involved. Nuclear contamination is what has left much of Fukushima, Japan and Chernobyl, Ukraine,
uninhabitable. But these are rare events.
It is a local “puff” of a toxic gas that has
led to many claims where adjusters scour
neighborhoods to seek out and, if possible, buy out claims before they reach the
class action level. It is only when govern-