List of environmental disasters

This article is a list of environmental disasters. In this context it is an annotated list of specific events caused by human activity that results in a negative effect on the environment.

Environmental disasters by categoryEdit



Human healthEdit



Oil industryEdit


Mushroom-shaped cloud and water column from the underwater nuclear explosion of July 25, 1946, which was part of Operation Crossroads
November 1951 nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site, from Operation Buster, with a yield of 21 kilotons. It was the first U.S. nuclear field exercise conducted on land; troops shown are 6 mi (9.7 km) from the blast.
  • Chernobyl disaster in 1986 in Chernobyl, Ukraine killed 49 people and was estimated to have damaged almost $7 billion of property".[2] Radioactive fallout from the accident concentrated near Belarus, Ukraine and Russia and at least 350,000 people were forcibly resettled away from these areas. After the accident, "traces of radioactive deposits unique to Chernobyl were found in nearly every country in the northern hemisphere".[2]
  • Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster: Following an earthquake, tsunami, and failure of cooling systems at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and issues concerning other nuclear facilities in Japan on March 11, 2011, a nuclear emergency was declared. This was the first time a nuclear emergency had been declared in Japan, and 140,000 residents within 20 km of the plant were evacuated.[3] Explosions and a fire have resulted in dangerous levels of radiation, sparking a stock market collapse and panic-buying in supermarkets.[4]
  • Mayak nuclear waste storage tank explosion, (Chelyabinsk, Soviet Union, September 29, 1957), 200+ people died and 270,000 people were exposed to dangerous radiation levels. Over thirty small communities had been removed from Soviet maps between 1958 and 1991.[5]
  • Windscale fire, United Kingdom, October 8, 1957. Fire ignites plutonium piles and contaminates surrounding dairy farms.[6]
  • Soviet submarine K-431 accident, August 10, 1985 (10 people died and 49 suffered radiation injuries).[7]
  • Soviet submarine K-19 accident, July 4, 1961 (8 deaths and more than 30 people were over-exposed to radiation).[8]
  • Nuclear testing at Moruroa and Fangataufa in the Pacific Ocean
  • Fallout from the Castle Bravo nuclear test at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands
  • The health of Downwinders
  • Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki, with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day.
  • Three Mile Island, 1979 - It is the most significant accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history. On the seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale, it is rated Level 5 – Accident with Wider Consequences.
  • Hanford Nuclear, 1986 – The U.S. government declassifies 19,000 pages of documents indicating that between 1946 and 1986, the Hanford Site near Richland, Washington, released thousands of US gallons of radioactive liquids. Radioactive waste was both released into the air and flowed into the Columbia River (which flows to the Pacific Ocean). In 2014, the Hanford legacy continues with billions of dollars spent annually in a seemingly endless cleanup of leaking underground






See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Dunsmuir 10 years later. SF Chronicle. July 9, 2001.
  2. ^ a b Benjamin K. Sovacool. The costs of failure: A preliminary assessment of major energy accidents, 1907–2007, Energy Policy 36 (2008), p. 1806.
  3. ^ Weisenthal, Joe (11 March 2011). "Japan Declares Nuclear Emergency, As Cooling System Fails At Power Plant". Business Insider. Retrieved 11 March 2011.
  4. ^ "Blasts escalate Japan's nuclear crisis". World News Australia. March 16, 2011. Archived from the original on April 7, 2011.
  5. ^ Samuel Upton Newtan. Nuclear War I and Other Major Nuclear Disasters of the 20th Century 2007, pp. 237–240.
  6. ^ Benjamin K. Sovacool and Christopher Cooper. Nuclear Nonsense: Why Nuclear Power is no Answer to Climate Change and the World's Post-Kyoto Energy Challenges, William and Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review, Vol 33:1, 2008, p. 109.
  7. ^ The Worst Nuclear Disasters
  8. ^ Strengthening the Safety of Radiation Sources Archived 2009-03-26 at the Wayback Machine p. 14.