Disaster, noun, a sudden accident or a natural catastrophe that causes great damage or loss of life. It’s what we call tsunamis, earthquakes, typhoons, eruptions and climate changes. However, those are nothing more than a reaction to our actions. We blame the Earth for the death of millions. We also think of ourselves as the alpha beings on this land, as governors and protectors. And yet, every now and then, our own incompetence and stupidity surfaces and shows us we’re nothing more than a danger. Not convinced? Hold on to read the following list man made natural disasters:
1). The Bhopal Gas Leak:
In 1984, a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, released 30 metric tons of methyl isocyanate into the atmosphere. The Union Carbide India Limited chemical plant was in extremely poor condition and had broken dozens of safety regulations years before the accident. However, the errors accumulated in time and on the night of December the third, a safety release system activated and emptied a storage tank in the air, in order to prevent a huge chemical explosion. The release spread highly toxic chemicals over Bhopal and the neighbouring areas. Official death count by the Indian government is 3,787 bodies, however, unofficial records state 8,000 deaths or more tied to the disaster.
2). The Jilin Chemical Explosion:
In November the thirteenth, 2005, a petrochemical plant in Jilin, China was the site of a series of explosions. Poor handling of the operating systems led to blasts which shattered windows up to 200 metres away. Six people died, dozens were injured and thousands were forced to evacuate the region. The event released 100 tons of pollutants, mainly benzene and nitrobenzene, into the environment. Surprisingly enough, the accident went seemingly victimless as viewed in scale. However, Songhua River and Amur River were covered in 80 km of toxic sludge. The benzene level rose to 108 times the safety levels. Exposure to it lowers the amount of blood cells in the body and can cause leukaemia and other immune system impairments.
3). The Gulf War Spill:
On January 16, 1991 the UN coalition forces launched an assault against Iraqi military occupying Kuwait. So, in a last-ditch attempt to prevent U.S. forces from landing on the beaches of Kuwait, Iraqi forces intentionally dumped oil into the Persian Gulf. They released oil from eight oil tankers, a refinery, two terminals, and a tank field. Since the Iraqis anticipated an amphibious invasion, they also dug long trenches down the coastline and filled them with oil. The entire act of environmental terrorism released a total of 11 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf, resulting in the largest oil spill in history. For the next three months, oil continued to spill into the Gulf at a rate of up to 6,000 barrels a day. Furthermore, while the Iraqis were retreating, they set ablaze a reported 732 oil wells. When the Kuwait Oil Company first announced this in May of 1991, they calculated the oil wells were burning as many as 6 million barrels a day. This disaster does not just highlight the responsibilities humans have in managing oil wells, rigs, pipelines, and tankers, it demonstrates how carelessness with a non-renewable energy source and pollutant, purposeful or not, can have devastating long-term environmental impacts that cannot be undone.
4). The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill:
If you haven’t already guessed, humanity has evolved out of the ability to learn from it’s mistakes. The Exxon Valdez oil tanker was on a course for Long Beach, California in 1989, before it struck the shore around midnight local time. The reason was a tired and insufficient crew which led to one of the world’s biggest contamination disasters of all times. An estimate of 119 thousand cubic metres of crude oil were spilled over several days, before the US government could react to the situation. In the end, 2,100 kilometres of coastline and 28 thousand square kilometres of ocean were coated in a thick layer of oil.
Chernobyl used to be a nuclear power plant near Pripyat, Ukraine. In 1986, an explosion, caused by poor management, cracked open one of the plant’s nuclear reactors and leaked large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere. The winds spread the radioactive cloud all over the USSR and Europe. It was classified as level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.The only other accident to receive the maximum rank is the Fukushima event. Even though the reactor was sealed as quickly as humanly possible, the entire area around the plant, including the nearby town Pripyat was highly contaminated. The residents were evacuated immediately, however, long term effects of the exposure still appear to this day. In the accident itself 31 people died, but each year hundreds of birth malformation and radiation-related illnesses add to the death toll. The dangerous diseases in plants and animals have caused irreversible damage to mother Nature.
6). The Minamata Disease:
The Minamata disease was discovered in the mid twentieth century in Minamata Bay, Japan, hence the name. It’s a neurological degradation, caused by organic mercury poisoning. The residents near Minamata Bay and especially the fishermen and their families exhibited a bizarre neurological impairment. Ultimately, it was found the waters in Minamata Bay, it’s fish and everybody in contact had a period of 34 years of exposure to lead, mercury, manganese, arsenic, thallium and copper, all highly toxic heavy metals. Turns out, the nearby chemical factory, owned by the Chisso corporation, was dumping its contaminated waste water directly into the bay.
7). The Door To Hell:
The Door To Hell is a natural gas field in Derweze, Turkmenistan, which to this day continues to burn, after it was set on fire in 1971. Soviet scientists began to drill and excavate the resource in the same year. However, during their work the ground under the drilling rig gave weight and collapsed. A giant crater formed and started to blow out methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, right into the atmosphere. Out of fear of further pollution, the workers did the next best thing, lit it on fire. When the gas is burned, almost all environmental hazards are removed. The scientists had the expectancy the fire would burn for a few days and then die. However, four decades later, it still does, fed by the underground deposits.
8). The Love Canal Toxic Landfill:
The Love Canal is a neighbourhood in Niagara Falls, New York. At the time of landscaping the area, the land belonged to Hooker Chemical, which used it to bury their toxic waste. However, an economic boom called for drastic expansion of the area. Niagara Falls had to quickly acquire more land to build a school. At start, Hooker Chemical refused to sell, due to health precautions. Ultimately, however, they were persuaded and the neighbourhood was built right on top of the buried toxic trash. The pollution, of course, affected the residents almost immediately. Birth defects, anomalies and strange illnesses began to emerge. In 1995, district judge John Curtin finally ruled in favour of the residents and matters were settled. The school was brought down and clean up began.
9). The Libby Montana Asbestos Contamination:
At the time (starting 1919), the residents of Libby, Montana, a small town, in the US, knew little about the effects of asbestos on the respiratory system. The toxic material was one of the by-products of the mines and plant operations. As a result, it was constantly pumped out of the industrial chimneys and continued to cover the town until 1990, when the mine was closed. Even though, by that time, asbestos had pretty much soaked into the very existence of the residents. The pollution accounts for 200 deaths and thousands of illnesses throughout the inhabitants. Now, the entire area is announced as contaminated and warning signs are put all over to avert people from further health danger.
10). London’s Great Smog:
The winter of ‘52 was a cold one for Londoners. At the time, people heated their homes with mainly coal powered heaters. Naturally, the consumption increased to battle the chills. It wouldn’t have been a problem if there wasn’t an anticyclone right on top of the city which collected the burned pollutants and smoke, and formed a thick layer of smog over the entire city. It lasted for four days and due to the nature of the city nobody paid attention. However, the smog was highly toxic and hit the lungs of pretty much every inhabitant. Later in the year, when medical reports were analysed, it was found that four thousand people had died prematurely and a hundred thousand more developed dreadful respiratory illnesses.