Here are some of the worst disasters we have ever caused on Earth. Disaster — noun — A sudden accident or natural catastrophe that causes significant damage or loss of lives. This is what we refer to as tsunamis. These are merely a response to our actions. We are responsible for the deaths of millions.
We view ourselves as the protectors and governors of this land. Yet, we are also reminded of our own incompetence every now and again, and that we are a danger. Still not convinced? Continue reading to find out. Because it is virtually impossible to calculate total damages or compare them, there can’t be any classification. Therefore, the number preceding each heading is not more than bug structural enhancement.
Leakage of Bhopal Gas
In 1984, 30 metric tons methyl isocyanate was resold by a Bhopal pesticide plant. Union Carbide India Limited was in very poor condition, and had broken many safety regulations over the years. However, due to the accumulation of errors, a safety system was activated on the night December third and emptied a tank in the atmosphere, in order not to cause a major chemical explosion. The release of toxic chemicals spread rapidly over Bhopal, and other nearby areas. Official Indian death toll is 3,787. However, unofficial records show that the disaster caused at least 8,000 deaths.
The Jilin Chemical Explosion
A series of explosions at Jilin, China’s petrochemical facility, resulted in a toxic cloud. Explosions that reached up to 200m away caused damage to windows due to poor operation of the operating system. Six people died, several were injured, and thousands fled the area. 100 tons of pollutants were released, most notably benzene & nitrobenzene. Surprisingly, it appeared that the accident was unaffected by its scale.
The toxic sludge clogged 80 km of the Songhua River and Amur Rivers. The benzene levels reached 108 times that of the safety limits. The benzene can cause leukemia in the body by reducing the number of blood cells. Tens to millions of people were left without water supply. While the initial death count was not significant, there were many more victims of the explosions.
Tennessee Coal Ash Spill
One house in Kingston was found buried in the ash at the Kingston Fossil Fuel Power Plant. This plant, like all others of its kind, produced fly coal ash as a byproduct of coal combustion. The storage methods required that the ash be mixed with water and then stored in dredge boxes. Poor management resulted in the dangerous accumulation of the mixture on the slopes of hills. The slurry weighed a lot and fell down the hill after a severe storm in 2008.
Mud slides are a favorite pastime in the southern states. A total of three hundred acres were covered in filth, and many Kingston properties were destroyed. Residents and national land sustained damage of approximately 675 millions dollars. An additional 975 million was needed to clean up the slurry. Three percent was still left after six months.
The Sidoarjo volcanic mud volcano
Mud volcanoes are often the result of seismic activity. But man could not stand that another person, mother nature or otherwise, would do something he didn’t. We caused one of our own. PT Lapindo Brantas is an Indonesian drilling firm. Despite multiple warnings, the company decided to dig in an unstable area near the ring. It appears that drilling has reactivated inactive faults.
This was accompanied by several large aftershocks and a 6.3 magnitude earthquake to its south-west. The drill hole then erupted mud about 200m above the ground. The drill hole continues to produce mud to this day. It is expected to continue for 25-30 more years. At its peak, the mud volcano released 180, 000 cubic meters of mud into ocean. While it’s not directly toxic, it’s also not edible or drinkable. The surrounding waters are being contaminated by the mud, which continues to affect thousands of people and wildlife.
North Pacific Garbage Patch
A gyre can be described as a marine phenomenon that is caused by the interactions of currents. It’s basically a vortex that traps water and spins around its center point. It cannot access the surrounding currents so it is impossible to transfer particles. In 1988 scientists predicted that the waste thrown into the ocean would eventually converge in one these gyres.
Well, it did. It is estimated that garbage covers approximately 700,000 to 15,000,000 square kilometres. The Pacific Ocean’s entire surface is covered with a mix of toxic sludge and plastic, as well as petrol and other thrown-away waste. No wonder sharks don’t like us. Hell, I’d eat off the legs of anyone who comes to my home and puts their garbage can inside.
The Gulf War Spill
As a result of human incompetence, the Persian Gulf was contaminated with 720 million cubic metres of water. Evidently, Iraq thought it was a brilliant military tactic to flood the water with petrol in order to make it difficult to land US forces. This incredible defense maneuver had a dramatic impact on wildlife.
The damage was too extensive to fix and, well, Iraq didn’t really do much to repair it. The oil is now settled into the water bed’s sediment layers. All marine wildlife were affected by the oil, and some local species went extinct. The environment is still recovering after 21 years but still has a lot of work ahead. Mother nature can be a hard cookie.
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
The oily Gulf of Mexico is considered the worst oil-related spillage, the Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded and fell into the water. This caused the drill hole to be completely open. Petrol began to leak into the sea, similar to a gunshot wound in the chest. It eventually released 780,000 cubic meters of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. This incident claimed seven lives.
The US was able to stop the leak 87 days after it began. It was even thought that nuclear blasts could be used to close the well. A huge oil spillage was not enough to get the media attention they desired. The devastating effects were reported by scientists over the next several years.
There are many ways to cause more damage, including mutated fish and closed beaches caused by washed-up petrol. The oil has been absorbed in the environment as well as food and water. It is considered the most serious health crisis in the United States.
The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
Humanity was built on the ability to learn and grow from its mistakes. Exxon Valdez was traveling to Long Beach, California, in 1989. The ship sailed just before midnight local time. A tired and inefficient crew led to one of the most devastating contamination catastrophes in history.
The US government was unable to respond quickly because of the estimated spillage of 119 000 cubic meters of crude petroleum oil over several days. End result: 2100km of coastline and 28000 km2 of ocean were covered with oil. The US is never satisfied with what they have, so it’s not surprising that they continue to spill more oil into the sea.
The Guiyu E-Waste Dump Is In China
Not only are Americans to blame for the current state, but so is everyone else. China’s Guiyu dump houses the largest e–waste landfill. The land covered with iPhones, Galaxy S4s, and other popular electronic devices covers 52 km2. Despite being smaller than world garbage, e-waste contains 70% of all heavy metals found in landfills.
Over time, they can leach out of appliances and end up in land, air, and water. Nearly all the residents of the area, and particularly the rice fields, are at risk from lead poisoning. Guiyu’s children have 54 percent more lead in their blood than Chendian, who live nearby.
Furthermore, the current methods for disposing of and reprocessing electronics are very outdated. Others involve literally burning piles of electronic equipment to recover precious metals. A Guiyu workshop soil sample shows 371 times and 115x more lead, respectively, than samples taken 30 km away. Electronic waste has a growing environmental impact. Next time you throw out your batteries, think about this.
Baia Mare Water Cyanide Contamination
The Romanian government and Esmeralda Exploration have partnered to create the Sasar River in Baia Mare, near Aurul’s gold mine. The gold cyanidation process is one way to extract precious metals from the ore. The result is cyanide-contaminated, or cyanide-contaminated, water.
The company claimed that they can handle their junk and shipped it off to Bonitza Mare. The dam wall exploded on January the thirty-sixth 2000, due to poor management or incapability. 100 thousand cubic meters of toxic water were released. It contained 100 tons of cyanide, which sank onto nearby farms and eventually made its way into the Somes River. It then traveled through many European rivers, and finally reached the Danube River.
The Tisza spillage killed 80% all life in the Serbian region. As large quantities of poisoned water decimated large numbers of animals and fish, sixty-two species were at risk. Twenty of these species are under protection. The poisoned water caused the destruction of the water supply to Hungary, where it affected two million people. After Chernobyl, the second largest pollution in Europe is cyanide.
Chernobyl was a nuclear power facility located near Pripryat (Ukraine) in the past. A poor management error caused a nuclear reactor to burst and large quantities radioactive particles were released into the atmosphere. The radioactive cloud spread across Europe and the USSR by the wind. It was classified as level 7 by the International Nuclear Event Scale.
Fukushima was the only accident to be awarded the highest rank. The reactor was sealed quickly, but the surrounding area, including Pripryat near the plant was still highly contaminated. The residents were evacuated as soon as possible, but the long-term term effects from the exposure remain. Fully 31 people were killed in the accident. Each year, hundreds of radiation-related and birth malformation-related illnesses cause more deaths.
London’s Great Smog
Londoners lived in cold winters in 1952-53 because of the thick smog. People used mainly coal-powered heaters to heat their homes at that time. The chills caused by the increased consumption naturally led to an increase in the amount of coal used for heating. It wouldn’t have been such a problem if the anticyclone was not right above the city. The anticyclone collected the burnt pollutants and smoke and created thick layers of smog that covered the entire city.
It lasted for 4 days and was not noticed by anyone due to the natural city. However, the smog was very toxic and affected the lungs almost everyone who lived there. Medical reports later in the year revealed that nearly four thousand people died prematurely, and that more than 100 thousand suffered terrible respiratory ailments. I suppose ignorance is not always blissful.
The Minamata Disease
Minamata Disease was first identified in Japan in the early 20th century. It is caused by organic Mercury poisoning and neurological degradation. It’s not a significant discovery as we know for years about the toxic effects mercury has on our bodies. But the shocking and fascinating situation that required extensive research is far more compelling. Residents near Minamata Bay, and particularly fishermen and their family members, showed a strange neurological impairment.
It was initially believed that the disease was caused by a virus. The affected persons were quickly isolated and had their homes cleaned. It led to a lot of discrimination among those who had symptoms of the illness. It was found that the sick had a 36.7 percent mortality rate, which is a terrible number.
Large-scale researches started and international attention was attracted to the case. It was finally found that the water in Minamata Bay had it. Its fish, and all of its contacts, had been exposed for 34 years to high levels of lead, mercury, arsenic and manganese — all extremely toxic heavy metals. The Chisso corporation was the one who owned the chemical factory near the bay. It was dumping the contaminated water into the bay.
The corporation officially recognized 2,265 victims, many of whom had already died in March 2001. Other 10 000 have been awarded financial recompense. But the death toll is likely much higher. They have now received certificates that attest to their suffering.
Contamination by Libby Montana Asbestos
Montana is a small city that has prospered only because of W.R Grace, which managed the vermiculite mines. At the time, people didn’t know much about the health effects of asbestos. This toxic material was produced by the operations of the mines. The toxic material was continuously pumped from industrial chimneys to the town and remained there until 1990, when it was finally removed.
Even though asbestos had been present in the residence for a long time, it was still visible. Exceeding materials were used to replace driveways, playgrounds and gardens that had been damaged by smoke. Even the school track was made with tailings.
There have been 200 deaths from the pollution and many other illnesses among the residents. To prevent further harm, warning signs are posted throughout the area.
The Love Canal Toxic Landfill
Niagara Falls is home to the Love Canal, a community in Niagara Falls. Hooker Chemical owned the land when it was being landscaped. This company used the land to bury their toxic waste. An economic boom prompted rapid expansion. Niagara Falls was forced to quickly purchase more land in order to construct a school. Hooker Chemical declined to sell at first due to safety concerns.
However, eventually they were persuaded, and the neighborhood was built right on top of the toxic trash. Because there is no better way to learn about chemistry than by living in a chemical landfill. The residents were affected almost immediately by the pollution. Strange illnesses, anomalies, and birth defects began to surface.
But, the issue was not made public by US reporters until 1978. But even that failed to attract the attention the respected authority. The matter was finally settled in 1995 by John Curtin, a District Judge. Clean-up began and the school was eventually demolished.
The Centralia Fire
Centralia is a borough that has been almost abandoned in Columbia County. While its story dates back to native Americans, it will always be remembered for what happened in 1962. The local landfill was cleaned out every year by the administrative Council. Five firefighters were hired to clean up the landfill in 1962. Common methods include setting the dump on fire and letting it burn for a time before extinguishing.
You would think that firefighters are good at fighting fires. In this case, they aren’t. Centralia had a coal mining operation that was abandoned over the years. A mine and coal are not good to light on fire, although it is generally considered abandoned. The firemen piled the garbage in the mine, and started a fire. These are the stories that start to differentiate. However, the most famous is the fact that they did not completely extinguish it. The leftover coal in the mine fueled the fire, which spread throughout the mine.
The problem eventually spread underground, beneath Centralia and Byrnesville. The problem was only discovered by state officials after a sinkhole collapsed, which sucked the child underground. These two towns are nearly deserted, and very few residents refuse leave, despite all the dangers.
The Door To Hell
The Door To Hell is a natural-gas field in Derweze (Turkmenistan), that continues to burn despite being set ablaze in 1971. Soviet scientists were the first to begin drilling and excavating the resource that year. However, as they worked the ground underneath the drilling rig gained weight and began to collapse. A large crater developed and began to release methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere. To avoid more pollution, workers set it ablaze. Nearly all environmental hazards can be removed when the gas has been burned.
I don’t know if this was the reason or a secret passion for surpassing the Centralia event. The scientists expected that the fire would only burn for a few more days before dying. The underground deposits have kept the fire burning for four decades. You should have known that, given the warnings of fuel crisis, this could have been helpful.
The death of the Aral Sea
The Aral Sea can be viewed as a sacrificial sheep for the Soviet Union’s agricultural plans. It was fourth in world size in 1960. In 1960, however, the Soviet Union officials determined to divert two rivers that flow into the lake. It was necessary to build massive irrigation channels. The idea was to feed the rivers back into a lake but also to make them travel through the desert to plant crops. The union wanted the nation to be the largest cotton exporter. And they were the biggest exporter in 1988.
But, they lost the first place. The channels were poorly built at that time. The cold war required speed and quality, not quantity. Because the diversion channels were inefficient, up to 75 percent of water went to the land. The lake was fed by the rest. In the end, the lake started to disappear. In 2004, the lake’s surface area was only 25% of its original size.
Uzbekistan takes care of the land just as much as it does for the water. The agricultural plan was created to get results. To maintain production, large quantities of fertilizers and pesticides were required. The fields’ run-off drained all toxic chemicals into the sea, which was already shrinking.
These combined with the salinity that resulted due to the evaporation continue to pollute the area and its inhabitants to this day. Sandstorms carry poisonous particles to the surface and scatter them in the air. Living conditions in the area are extremely unhealthy. There are many other sufferings that can be attributed to the environment, including birth defects, infant death, pregnant women’s deaths, illnesses, and lack of water. All for Russia, I guess.
Incident at Palomares
1966: A B-52 American bomber carrying four hydrogen bombs crashed into a KC-135 tank as they were refuelling mid-air in Spain. It was caused by miscommunication. In the explosion, the nuclear weaponry was unleashed. Three of the four bombs fell in the area around Palomares (a fishing village in Spain). Two of the four had already released their non nuclear explosives. Two-square-kilometres was contaminated with plutonium…and democratic.
The third and fourth were generally unharmed and were recovered from land and sea. Although we were able to avoid human losses, it was due to sheer luck that no new Nagasaki had been discovered. If this had happened, the entire world would have been destroyed by the time that you read these lines.
Castle Bravo was the codename given to the most powerful nuclear bomb ever released by American hands. The blast was 15 megaton in power, which is a thousand times more than the Hiroshima nuclear bomb. It turned out to be three times more powerful than the original bomb designers had expected. It is the largest nuclear explosion ever recorded in the United States. Only Russia has ever used more powerful bombs. Of course, Russians will never be able to claim a lower level of confidence than Americans.
It occurred in the Marshall Islands’ Bikini atoll on the 1st of March 1954. The fallout from the explosion reached 20 thousand people living on nearby islands. The Utrik Atolls residents were not even alerted to the test. They spent three full days in fallout exposure before the American government evacuated their homes.
Three years later, the two were brought back to their homes to find that their land had been contaminated. A Japanese boat accidentally came into direct contact with radiation. The radiation caused severe illness and an international uproar. The history of the first contact between Japan, USA nuclear weapons remains etched in our collective memory.