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Situation 1: New High School in Orting
Image of a town with Mt. Rainier in the background.  This image links to a more detailed image.Business and community leaders in the city of Orting in Pierce County, Washington state, wish to build a new high school to accommodate and encourage the local population explosion. (Orting is only 30-40 minutes commuting time from the rapidly growing Tacoma and Seattle metropolitan areas.) However, Pierce County officials have refused permission to build the high school on county lands because they feel the location is hazardous. Geological surveys show that both Orting and the proposed high school site are on top of solidified mudflows that originated on the slopes of nearby Mount Rainier. Based on the location of older flows around Mount Rainier and on experience gained from observing mudflows during the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, county officials argue that any new mudflow coming down the valley could easily destroy the high school and anybody who happened to be in it. County officials have also passed an ordinance forbidding high-density housing (like tract-home developments) on county lands, claiming that there are not sufficient roads out of the city to allow for emergency evacuation. The ordinance has upset local developers. City leaders counter that warning from a system of acoustic sensors (which have not yet been built) would give students enough time to evacuate the school, if necessary. The city has tried three separate times to pass a bond issue enabling the high school to be built on city lands but has not been successful.
Photo: USGS EROS Data Center

Representatives from both the city and the county have appealed to your company to provide them with the facts and potential risks of the situation and to recommend whether to build the high school.

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