Ecological Disasters


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What is an Environmental Disaster?

In the predawn hours of December 3, , a toxic cloud of methyl isocyanate gas escaped from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, and quickly spread throughout the city. Dog, bird, cow and water buffalo corpses reportedly lined the streets. Investigations later uncovered a slew of safety violations at the plant, including broken and outdated equipment. Lax management also played a role; a supervisor, for example, allegedly broke for tea at the moment of crisis, believing it was only a water leak.

Hundreds of thousands of additional inhabitants suffered afflictions ranging from memory loss and nerve damage to blindness and organ failure.


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To this day, the site of the plant, now owned by Dow Chemical Company, remains highly contaminated. On April 26, , a turbine test on one of the reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear power station went horribly awry, leading to a series of explosions that spewed massive amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere.

The accident, which the Soviet authorities attempted to cover up, initially claimed only 31 lives: two plant workers who died in the blasts, a third who reportedly keeled over of a heart attack and 28 first responders who contracted acute radiation syndrome during the frantic early stages of the cleanup. However, Chernobyl also unleashed a thyroid cancer epidemic and likely caused additional cancer cases as well.

Five environmental disasters that we should make sure children know about

In , a United Nations-backed panel calculated the eventual death toll at up to 4,, whereas other organizations put this number significantly higher. For perhaps centuries to come, an exclusion zone, set up around the plant following the forced evacuation of tens of thousands of area residents, will be off limits to human habitation.

Burning oilfield during Operation Desert Storm, Kuwait. Seeking revenge for his imminent defeat, Saddam Hussein ordered retreating Iraqi troops to set fire to about Kuwaiti oil wells at the tail end of the Persian Gulf War. Oily smoke plumes shot high up into the sky, darkening the sun and making breathing difficult for those who ventured outside. One U. By the time the last of the blazes was extinguished that November, an estimated 1 billion to 1. Immediately thereafter, Hussein initiated another environmental disaster, draining the vast marshlands of southern Iraq in order to suppress a Shiite rebellion.

Dark clouds of smoke and fire emerge as oil burns during a controlled fire in the Gulf of Mexico. On April 20, , the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, located far out in the Gulf of Mexico, exploded into flames, killing 11 workers and injuring several others. The rig, owned by offshore drilling contractor Transocean and under lease to oil giant BP, then sank two days later, causing a petroleum leak that would gush out of control for nearly three months. According to the U. BP has since shelled out tens of billions of dollars in cleanup costs, fines and legal settlements.

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Grace Company did not inform its employees of the dangers of mining vermiculite. The cleanup of this toxic site - perhaps the worst in the history of the U. S — as well as the litigation, potential and otherwise, continues to this day. The rig subsequently sank into the Gulf, killing 11 people. No longer sealed at the seafloor, the damaged rig leaked oil into ocean - and it gushed for 87 days, spilling an estimated million gallons of crude oil into the sea.

Oil dispersant was used to spread the oil around, but it turned out to be more toxic than the crude oil. The leak was finally tapped, but may still leak some, who knows? This deluge of oil is considered the worst accidental marine oil spill in the history of petroleum exploration. British Petroleum or BP, the owner of the rig, was found to be criminally responsible for the disaster.

Moreover, the injuries and death to sea life was massive and incalculable, and fishing interests in the Gulf were severely damaged. Moreover, much crude oil is still present in the ecosystem of the area and will be for many years. After the end of World War Two, the U. At first, the U. At times, the mushroom clouds from these detonations could be seen in the city of Las Vegas, only 65 miles from the site. Moreover, parts of Nevada, Arizona and Utah had radioactive fallout sprinkled upon its residents for years during the atmospheric tests. But the town of St.

George in Utah may have gotten the worst of the fallout, because it was downwind of the test site. Furthermore, deaths from various forms of cancer increased in the test site area from the middle s into the s.

After testing at the site ended in , the Department of Energy estimated that megacuries of radioactivity remain at the site, making it the most radioactive place in the U. Nevertheless, public tours are allowed here, though you have to wonder why anybody would want to visit such a terrible place! Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites. Thanks for the comment, Genna East. Yeah, ya know, the U. The nerve of some people!

The Various Types of Environmental Disasters

They should have warned us, if nothing else. Thanks for the comment, AliciaC. I've always had great concern for the environmental issue of the U. This article is a must-read for everyone. Although the events that you describe are tragic, your hub is very interesting and very informative. I learned a lot by reading it. Thanks for sharing all the information. Other product and company names shown may be trademarks of their respective owners. HubPages and Hubbers authors may earn revenue on this page based on affiliate relationships and advertisements with partners including Amazon, Google, and others.

Environmental disaster

HubPages Inc, a part of Maven Inc. As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so. Kelley Marks more. These disasters have altered the national psyche regarding ecological concerns Man-made disasters will always be with us, and the United States has had its share of those. Bunker Hill Mine Closed since the s because of environmental concerns, the Bunker Hill Mine, located in the Silver Valley of northern Idaho, may soon reopen after decades of cleanup. Three-Mile Island Nuclear Accident In March , one of three nuclear reactors at the Three-Mile Island power plant in Pennsylvania nearly melted down , a catastrophe which could have vented massive amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere.

On the same topic

Middle West Dust Bowl Dirty Thirties Times were hard during the Great Depression of the s, and they got much worse for people living in the Middle West, when vast dust clouds roiled over thousands of the square miles of the U. Mississippi Delta Dead Zone Since the bad old days of the Dust Bowl, farmers in the Middle West have learned how to effectively till the soil without causing vast dust clouds, but now another problem has presented itself: Eutrophication.

Picher Lead Contamination Since , Picher, Oklahoma was one of the biggest mining towns in the country. Love Canal The story of Love Canal has become an iconic tale of the people vs. Please leave a comment. Questions must be on-topic, written with proper grammar usage, and understandable to a wide audience. Sign In Join. Connect with us. This website uses cookies As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. This is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons. This is used to prevent bots and spam.

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