Top 10 Environmental Disasters

Humans haven’t always been kind to the Earth, particularly in the last century, and in some cases, their actions have been devastating. Below is a list of the top 10 environmental disasters, which impacted human life, animals, wildlife, air and water quality, and more.

Hiroshima / Nagasaki – Atomic Bombs In Japan

In 1945, the United States and its Allies effectively ended World War II by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, cities in Japan. An estimated 250,000 people died within months of the bombing, many within days.

Chernobyl – Nuclear Disaster In Russia

In 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl power plant exploded in the Ukraine, sending radiation drifting across the Soviet Union and into Europe. Today, 20 miles around the plant are still blocked off. The faulty reactor is sealed off with concrete, but the shell that’s protecting it is deteriorating.

Three Mile Island – Nuclear Disaster In the United States

The United States had its own nuclear disaster in 1979, when a nuclear reactor at the Three Mile Island plant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania melted down. Because of this incident, interest in building new nuclear plants waned.

Tokaimura – Nuclear Disaster Japan

In 1999, three workers at a nuclear plant in Japan made a mistake while mixing a uranium solution, causing an explosion.

Exxon Valdez – Oil Spill In Alaska

In 1986, one of Exxon massive oil tankers hit a reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. More than 11 million gallons of oil leaked, eventually drifting more than 500 miles and affecting thousands of miles of coastline.

BP Petroleum – Oil Spill in Gulf Coast of Mexico

In 2010, when an oil rig exploded in the Gulf Coast of Mexico, more than 200 million gallons (4.9 million barrels) of oil spewed into the ocean, affecting 16,000 miles of coastline, most of it in Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Kuwait Oil Fires – Oil Fires In Kuwait

In 1991, Sadam Hussein ordered his men to blow up Kuwait oil wells. For seven months, approximately 600 oil wells burned.

Love Canal – Industrial Waste in New York

In 1979, toxic waste that had been buried in the 1940s and 1950s began to surface in the homes and yards of people in the town of Love Canal, in upstate New York. This environmental disaster prompted the formation of the EPA’s Superfund program.

Aral Sea – Water Diversion in Central Asia

At one time, the Aral Sea in Central Asia was the fourth largest lake on the planet. In the 1960s, the Soviet Union started diverting water from it for irrigation. Today, 90% of the lake is gone.

Seveso – Dioxin Poisoning in Italy

In 1976, a chemical plant in Northern Italy exploded, sending dioxin into the air. Animals died first, and humans suffered from various ailments before the town was evacuated, four days after the disaster.

Click here for a list of environmental issues and a list of the top ten environmental issues.