The negligent attitude of the U.S. authorities to infrastructure — a real danger for human lives, warns in his article in Newsweek American journalist David Cay Johnston. This magazine version of excerpts from his new book "Small Fonts» (The Fine Print). Johnston predicts explosions on the gas pipeline, dam, large-scale power failures.
"America for decades save on public infrastructure. This endangers people and weakens the economy as bridges rust, roads are destroyed, gradually eroded the dam, water flows, "- tells the author. According to him, the disturbing "bells" were already — in 2007 in Minneapolis collapsed overpass on the highway, in 2011, showed a crack at Sherman Minton Bridge, connecting Indiana to Kentucky. "The Hidden Dangers lurk around us," — writes the journalist.
But even more dangerous, in the opinion of Johnston, decaying infrastructure owned by private companies: oil and gas pipelines can explode unexpectedly, power line poles, worn out — collapse. "The communications infrastructure is much less reliable than 20 years ago, although customers have paid more than half a trillion dollars for its modernization," — says the article.
American Society of Civil Engineers (American Society of Civil Engineers) has put the U.S. infrastructure rated "poor" and urges that the repair and maintenance of 2.2 trillion dollars.
For its part, the author reminds the massive power outage in the U.S. and Canada in 2003 caused damage to six billion dollars and caused the deaths of six people. "New megaotklyucheniya likely: now hundreds of local power grid is connected to three major power grids, which are more vulnerable," — says the author. In addition, monopolistic corporations have cut tens of thousands of ordinary workers who were engaged in the operation of power grids.
"Under the guise of deregulation of the monopoly of supplying us with electricity, water, gasoline and natural gas, as well as providing access to the Internet, save on private infrastructure — is what keeps the modern way of life and economic activity" — warns the author. According to him, expenditure drastically reduced, despite the fact that revenues are huge — up to 55% of the value of the assets, "8 times more than the average in corporations."
Save on infrastructure and private owners of railway viaducts, dams, hydropower stations and pipelines. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transportation permits to exploit some of pipelines, although the pipe rusted almost 70%.
The author tells the remarkable story: "thousands of people could die if the two boys who were playing in the woods with a cigarette lighter, have not arranged to accidentally blast before the flow of gasoline has had time to reach the city." It was in Bellingham, Wash., in 1999. Because of the bursting of Shell gasoline got into the river, which flows under the bridge and past the prisons and nursing homes.
In the cities there is an additional danger: the explosion of the gas can ignite the fuel in the tanks of vehicles or fuel oil in the tanks used for heating. "Heat wave height of 5-6 floors penetrate the window", causing a fire in the premises, warns Vince Dunn, former Chief Inspector of Fire Protection in New York.
For their part, employees of gas companies claim that the management staff cuts, while increasing the salaries of top managers, "there is nobody to do the work."
"Neglect to electrical equipment too dangerous for life" — the author writes. The couple from Nevada Veyskhaar heard from repairman: "We are not after anything to look after. Just wait until the break, and only then fix it, "as the company saves on operating costs. Meanwhile, breaking at the site Veyskhaarov resulting in a fire and was a major forest fire.
"The estimates are not reduced because the utility companies allegedly did not have enough money. While consumer associations are extinguished, and state governments are cutting budgets for inspection housing sector, utility tariffs in many cases seriously outpace inflation, "- says the article.
Pacific Gas & Electric raised its rates in order to finance the replacement of poles. "But instead of 46 thousand columns per year are replaced by about 3 thousand in the last column of this rate will last until 2778" — the author writes.
Whether in the field of competition, the neglect of infrastructure would bankrupt any company. But monopolies savings on inspections and repairs can be beneficial, says the author. In the case of major accidents of housing can quickly raise tariffs. "And the people will support it, provided he does not know about the re-roll of money with repairs on the salary top-managers," — says the article.
"Ironically, utility tariffs are set by the government, which allows companies to include in their rates the cost of insurance for the payment of compensation for the bombing of the pipeline, for example," — the author writes. This means that people have to pay, but the danger for them is only growing.