Top 10 The Most Horrible Man-made Disasters in History

Tags: #Chernobyl ,   #ThreeMileIsland ,   #oilspill ,   #LoveCanal ,   #NuclearDisaster

Alex O'Brien

Alex O'Brien

Last updated:  2021-03-11 21:51:39

Over the years, we concluded that people are drawn to tragedy. Due to the lack of fitting care and attention, we have quite a few horrific man-made accidents that occupy everyone's attention. We often learn that these accidents could be prevented or that the destruction could be reduced with a proper reaction. Instead, what usually followed was damage control until things blew out of proportion. We can only hope that all of this will decrease the harm of the next man-made accidents, as nature creates them plenty too. So let's get started with this sad list.

10. Asbestos Disasters

Take a peek at Wittenoom, the abandoned asbestos town in Australia (video: YouTube.com)

Mining of vermiculite began in 1919 at Libby, Montana, exposing the workers and residents to toxic asbestos dust. The health issues like lung cancer were often, and the company was aware of it but continued mining until 1990. In 1999 the poisonous effect of asbestos dust on health was acknowledged and started the most extensive asbestos clean-up. Today the Libby is safe for living.

Australia had a similar problem with blue asbestos mining in the town of Wittenoom. From 1946 until 1966, the mining took place before the location was abandoned and declared a highly unsafe place to live or visit.

9. The Tennessee Coal Ash Spill

Check out the background story behind the Tennessee coal ash spill (video: YouTube.com)

This environmental and industrial disaster occurred in 2008 at Kingston Fossil Plant, Tennessee. The cause of the mishap was a breach of the dike at the coal storage pond, causing the release of a slurry of fly ash (coal combustion residual) and water into Emory River. This accident could be avoided, but the company ignored the TVA warnings that the ash ponds' safety needs to be improved.

Nevertheless, the accident didn't take lives. However, the clean-up has resulted in a major illness among the crew because they were misled regarding fly ash's toxicity and equipped only with face masks. This remains the most significant industrial disaster in US history.

8. The Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania

Watch the New York Times retro documentary about the Three Mile Power Plant disaster (video: YouTube.com)

Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station disaster in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, occurred back in 1979. This was a level five nuclear catastrophe caused by equipment malfunctions, human error, and design flaws. However, the Three Mile disaster didn't severely impact the employees and the public, as the radioactive release was small. 

Moreover, it led to drastic changes regarding the safety measures and responses in the future. Although the Three Mile accident luckily hasn't left severe damage, this remains the highest nuclear disaster on US soil.

7. The Jilin Chemical Plant Explosions, China

Watch the story about explosions in the Jilin Chemical Plant (video: YouTube.com)

In 2005, a series of explosions occurred at a petrochemical plant, releasing 100 tons of toxins into a river in China's northeastern province, Jilin. Before the catastrophe, several problems have occurred and caused minor leakage of toxins in the Songhua River. Yet, the public was unaware since everything was covered up. 

The accident was caused by a chemical blockage that wasn't handled the proper way. The explosion killed six people, left 70 people injured, and the officials evacuated more than 10.000 residents to prevent toxic exposure.

6. The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, Alaska

Watch the New York Times documentary about the Exxon Valdez oil spill (video: YouTube.com)

Although the Gulf War oil spill from 1991 was a more enormous ecological disaster, it was caused deliberately, so it can't be on our list. However, the Exxon Valdez oil spill from 1989 was a man-made accident with a catastrophic environmental impact. The disaster occurred when the Exxon Valdez oil tanker struck Bligh Reef, a well-known navigation issue at Prince William Sound, Alaska. The crash ripped open the ship's hull, leading to the spilling of 11 million gallons of oil into the water.

The impact on marine life was enormous, but the events that led to the accident tell a story about irresponsibility. Unfortunately, the ship's Captain was drunk and left the inexperienced third mate to stir the vessel over the known nautical hazard of Bligh Reef. This could have undoubtedly been avoided, as it instead caused massive animal deaths and months of cleaning up.

5. The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Learn something about 87 days of oil leakage at the Deepwater Horizon (video: YouTube.com)

At the Gulf of Mexico, an oil leakage on a drilling rig Deepwater Horizon operated by British Company (shorth BP) began on April 20, 2010. This massive oil spill lasted until September 19, 2010, causing an enormous impact on marine life. The cause of the accident was poor management and cutting out the costs, which led to unsafe cement work on the well, and the explosion.

Unfortunately, there were a few unsuccessful attempts to seal the well and stop the leakage. During this time (from April till September), 4.9 million barrels of oil have been spilled into the sea of the Gulf of Mexico, causing extreme damages to the sea life and environment.

4. The Love Canal

Watch the struggles of the residents of the Love Canal (video: YouTube.com)

There's nothing loveable about the Love Canal, as, on the contrary, it brought many health issues and deaths. It all began back at the end of the 19th century when the planning of Niagara Falls started. Still, shortly afterward, the plans were abandoned, and the Love Canal became the dumpsite. In the 1940s, it was sold to the Hooker Chemical Company who used it to dispose of chemical byproducts from manufacturing perfumes, dyes, and solvents for rubber and synthetic resins.

Afterward, in 1953 the Love Canal was sold to the school district. During the next three decades, this leads to numerous health issues and leukemia among district residents. Large protests with media coverage have raised public attention, and as a result, the Love Canal has been evacuated. Later, it was cleaned up to some point, although the issues remain.

3. The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Disaster, Japan

Check out how the Fukushima Nuclear Plant disaster occurred (video: YouTube.com)

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster happened in March 2011. It's a level seven disaster (the highest one) with a bit less severe impact than Chernobyl. Although the catastrophe itself resulted from the earthquake and the tsunami, this partially man-made disaster could have been avoided if the safety warnings were taken seriously. A few years before the accident, the TEPCO Company (plant's owner) was warned that this could happen, as high tsunamis had already stricken Japan. Yet, the warnings were disregarded. 

The highest radiation impact after the disaster was on marine life, as the radioactive cooling water was dispensed into the sea. Moreover, due to the high current on the Fukushima coast, the radiation was spread into the Pacific Ocean.

2. Bhopal Gas Leak

Watch the awful tragedy that occurred in Bhopal, India. The video contains some disturbing images. (video: YouTube.com)

Back in 1984, the Union Carbide Pesticide plant leaked 27 tons of deadly gas upon Bhopal town in India. As six safety systems preventing such massive leakage were non-operational, half of million people were exposed to the gas, and 25000 died. However, The Union Carbide plant and its owner Dow Chemical refused to clean up after the disaster and accept the responsibilities. 

The whole thing ended up at court, but the effects of the disaster are still enormous. At the end of 1999, Greenpeace reported that the water and soil around the plant were contaminated with heavy metals. A few years later, in early 2000, mercury and lead were found in the breast milk of women who lived near the plant. Overall, the disaster caused many illnesses of surviving residents.

1. The Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Disaster, Ukraine

Check out the solutions made to sustain radiation of the plant decades after the disaster (video: YouTube.com)

The Chernobyl Nuclear Plant disaster occurred back in 1986, and until the present day, it remains the most significant nuclear disaster of level seven. According to scientists, this could have been avoided, as the cause was a breach of safety protocols. Everything occurred during the simulation of the safety procedure test on the reactor with design flaws.

Even though the explosion itself didn't take many lives directly, the radiation effects were severe. Pripyat, a town near the nuclear plant, is still abandoned and radioactive. Nowadays, radiation around the plant won't kill you, but it can harm your health long-term. Moreover, the core's remains at the plant called the Elephant's foot are still warm and radioactive. The statement that accidents drew people is evident at Pripyat because today, it's a tourist attraction, though strictly regulated.

Man-made accidents are often caused by the wrong calculations, and as you can see, they left extreme consequences for future generations. It would be great to make this list timeless and that the man-made disasters stop here, but unfortunately, we think that this isn't the end of it. We can only wish that the damage of the next one will be with fewer casualties.

Have you had some experience with a man-made accident that was horrific at the local level? Does this list make you angry or sad? Please write to us in the comment, as we would like to hear your stands.

Cover photo: (Wendelin_Jacober/pixabay.com)


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