The Environment Chronicle Notable environmental events
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- 1800 26 Events (Disaster)
- 1900 5 Events (Disaster)
- 1910 6 Events (Disaster)
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- 1940 7 Events (Disaster)
- 1950 15 Events (Disaster)
- 1960 25 Events (Disaster)
- 1970 106 Events (Disaster)
- 1980 138 Events (Disaster)
- 1990 271 Events (Disaster)
- 2000 30 Events (Disaster)
- 2001 32 Events (Disaster)
- 2002 39 Events (Disaster)
- 2003 37 Events (Disaster)
- 2004 44 Events (Disaster)
- 2005 47 Events (Disaster)
- 2006 46 Events (Disaster)
- 2007 57 Events (Disaster)
- 2008 119 Events (Disaster)
- 2009 286 Events (Disaster)
- 2010 315 Events (Disaster)
- 2011 293 Events (Disaster)
- 2012 231 Events (Disaster)
- 2013 331 Events (Disaster)
- 2014 366 Events (Disaster)
- 2015 374 Events (Disaster)
- 2016 341 Events (Disaster)
- 2017 305 Events (Disaster)
- 2018 25 Events (Disaster)
- 2019 4 Events (Disaster)
- 2020 0 Events (Disaster)
On 16 November 2017, about 795,000 litre of cruide oil gushed out of the Keystone Pipeline in Marshall County, South Dakota. The pipeline company, TransCanada, said in a statement that the South Dakota leak was detected around 6 a.m. local time on Thursday. The pipeline was shut down, and the cause of the leak was under investigation.
On 21 April 2017, a ferry carrying 140 passengers crashed into a pier where pipes were located on the main island of Gran Canaria, prompting an oil spill. The pipes leaked 60,000 litres of oil into waters surrounding the towns of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Telde, according to the regional government.
On 4 March 2017, the 4,290-tonne cruise ship Caledonian Sky, owned by British company Noble Caledonia, crashed coral reef near Kri Island, off Raja Ampat, Indonesia. It was one of the most beautiful coral reef areas in the world. Caledonian Sky was completing a bird-watching tourism trip on Waigeo Island when it veered slightly off course. It ran aground during low tide, smashing through the coral reefs. About 1,600 meter squares of coral reef were damaged after the incident.
On 23 October 2015, Southern California Gas Company discovered a leak at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility. This reservoir is the second-largest natural gas storage site in the western United States and about one mile north of homes in Porter Ranch, a neighborhood in the northwest region of the San Fernando Valley region of the city of Los Angeles, California. The gas leak began spewing 110,000 pounds of methane per hour. On 6 January 2016, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency. On 18 February 2016, state officials announced that the leak was permanently plugged. At its peak this blowout effectively doubled the CH4 emission rate of the entire Los Angeles Basin, and in total released 97,100 metric tonnes of methane to the atmosphere. The total release from Aliso Canyon will substantially impact the State of California greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets for the year and is equivalent to the annual energy sector CH4 emissions from medium-sized EU nations, the Science reported on 25 February 2016.
On 13 May 2016, a waste ground containing tons of vehicle tires caught fire near Madrid. The local government has issued a catastrophe alarm due to the extremely dangerous and highly carcinogenic fumes produced by the blaze. The waste ground stretches over some 10 hectares and contains an estimated five million vehicle tires weighing 100,000 tons, news agency Efe reported.
Brazil’s worst environmental disaster occurred 5 November 2015, when a tailings dam at a iron ore mine burst, unleashing a flood of mud on the community of Bento Rodrigues in the state of Minas Gerais. The dam breach killed 17 people, left hundreds homeless and polluted the Rio Doce, the region's most main water source. Innumerable fish were killed and the river ecosystem devastated before the sludge spilled into the Atlantic Ocean. The tailings dam was owned and operated by Samarco, a joint venture between Brazil's mining giant Vale and Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton.
On 6 October 2015, the Dutch freighter Flinterstar sank partially after colliding with a LNG tanker in the North Sea, some 6 miles off the Belgian port of Zeebrugge. According to the Belga news agency, an unspecified amount of oil leaked from the ship. During the afternoon, two small oil slicks caused by the accident were present some 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the shore. The Dutch cargo ship Flinterstar was carrying 125 tonnes (138 tons) of diesel and 427 tonnes (470 tons) of fuel oil.
On 12 August 2015, massive chemical explosions occured at the Port of Tianjin, China. Two explosions ripped through Tianjin Ruihai International Logistics Co. Ltd warehouse in Tianjin Port, killing 165 people. Another eight people are still unaccounted for. The explosions damaged 304 buildings, 12,428 cars and 7,533 containers, with verified direct economic losses of 6.87 billion yuan. On 5 February 2016, China released its official report of investigation, which reveals that the disaster, "an extraordinarily serious production safety accident," was caused by ignition of hazardous materials, improperly or illegally stored at the site. Ruihai Logistics had "illegally built a freight yard of hazardous materials, conducted illegal operations, illegally stored hazardous material and had been running inept safety management," the report said.
A pipeline failure has spilled about 5 million litres of bitumen, sand and wastewater from a Nexen Energy pipeline near its Long Lake oil sands facility south of Fort McMurray in northeastern Alberta, Canada. The leak from the pipeline was discovered in the afternoon of 15 July 15, 2015.
On 19 May 2015, a large release of crude oil was reported from a pipeline operated by Plains All American Pipeline, L.P., just north of Refugio State Beach, in Santa Barbara County. Oil was released from the pipeline rupture into a culvert that drains into the Pacific Ocean. While the location of the pipeline release is in the ‘inland zone,’ the impacts to the environment are both inland and costal. On May 20, 2015, Refugio State Beach and El Capitán State Beach were closed and Governor of California Jerry Brown, declared a state of emergency in response to the oil spill.
On 11 April 2015, the trawler Oleg Naydenov caught fire while berthed in Las Palmas, Canary Islands. Spainish Authorities decided to tow the Oleg Naydenov out of the port fearing the trawler could explode damaging other vessels in the port. On 14 April 2015, the Oleg Naydenov sank in 2700 meters of water some 25 kilometres off the coast of Maspalomas, Gran Canaria. The Oleg Naydenov had some 1400 tons of fuel on board at the time of the fire.
On 4 February 2015, Ecuador's government put a state of emergency in place for the Galapagos Islands. Fears there are growing that fuel leaking from a stranded vessel may place the fragile UNESCO World Heritage Site ecosystem at risk. The state of emergency will apply for 180 days and includes the national park, the protected marine reserve and the archipelago, Ecuador's Environment Ministry wrote on its website. The ship, Floreana, carrying more than 1,400 tons of cargo, including food and hazardous materials as well as 38,850 liters (10,000 gallons) of fuel, ran aground off the island of San Cristobal on 28 January 2015.
On 23 December 2014, a pipeline leak with oil emulsion seepage took place during pipeline testing at the 242nd km of the Tikhoretsk-Tuapse-2 oil pipeline under construction in the area of Grechesky Village, Tuapse Region. The total amount of leakage is estimated at 8.4 cubic meters. The pipeline wall was damaged by a landslide. Some of the seeped oil emulsion got into the Tuapse River. As a result of unfavorable weather conditions – abundant precipitation and high wind – some of the oil emulsion ended up in the sea. On water surface in the Tuapse Bay, oil slicks were detected.
On 9 December 2014, an oil tanker sank and dumped hundreds of liters of furnace oil into the Sundarbans delta after a collision with another vessel. The oil has spread over 350-square-kilometer area straddling Bangladesh and India.
A pipeline, which carries oil between Eilat and Ashkelon, was breached on 3 December 2014, during construction work in Be'er Ora, near Eilat. The official, Guy Samet, said there is a seven-kilometer (4.3 mile) long river of oil flowing through the Evrona Nature Reserve in southern Israel, some 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) north of Eilat.
On 7 August 2014, a major ecological disaster took place at the Buenavista-mine when 40,000 cubic meters of wastewater spilled into the Bacanuchi river and Sonora river. The chemical, which is used to dissolve copper from ore, turned a 60km stretch of the Sonora River orange, causing the authorities to shut down the municipal water supply to 20,000 people in seven towns.
On 16 July 2014, an oil spill was spotted within a kilometer of the coastline near the beach playa de El Cabrón, in the town of Agüimes/ Gran Canaria, an area well known for being considered a sanctuary for divers.
On 15 May 2014 Ecuador declared a state of emergency on the Galápagos Islands after a freighter carrying chemicals and dangerous products ran aground 9 May 2014 as it was leaving the bay of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, on San Cristóbal island. The environment ministry said 19,000 gallons of diesel has already been removed from the ship without causing any damage to the Unesco World Heritage site.
On 11 April 2014, 2.4 million residents in the capital of Gansu province were warned by the government not to use tap water after tests showed excessive levels of carcinogenic benzene in the city's water supply. Tests on Friday showed benzene levels had reached 200 micrograms per litre - 20 times the national safety standard.
A new leak of 100 tonnes of highly radioactive water has been discovered at Fukushima, the plant's operator said on 19 February 2014.
The cargo vessel Luno was en route to the port of Bayonne, France, when it suffered a total blackout and hit the Cavaliers breakwater (Anglet, Pyrénées-Atlantiques) on the morning of 5th February 2014. Blasted by 110 km/h winds from Storm Petra and 6 to 7-metre waves, the ship broke in two. A leak of marine diesel from the cracked bunker tanks was reported. During the night the stern section of the Luno broke off in two parts, which sank against the Cavaliers breakwater. The fuel contained in the rear bunkers was released into the marine environment.
Officials said that up to 5,000 gallons of an industrial chemical used in coal processing seeped from a ruptured storage tank into the Elk River, just upstream of the intake pipes for the regional water company. Authorities struggled to determine how much danger the little-known chemical, MCHM, or 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, posed. The chemical, which smells like licorice, can cause headaches, eye and skin irritation, and difficulty breathing from prolonged exposures at high concentrations, according to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.
On 30 December 2014, severals cars in huge crude oil freight train exploded near the eastern North Dakota town of Casselton, after a collision with another train. The incident came just weeks after North Dakota's top oil regulator estimated that 90 percent of the state's oil would be carried by train in 2014, up from 60 percent in 2013. The oil train spilled 400,000 gallons of crude, U.S. investigators said on 13 January 2014, in a preliminary report on the accident.
On 29 December 2013 the Hong Kong-flagged tanker Maritime Maisie was carrying about 30,000 tonnes of chemicals when it was involved in a collision with a Pure Car and Truck Carrier (PCTC) near Busan/ Korea, subsequently catching fire. She has since been held at sea by tugs, as both the Japanese and South Korean governments unwilling to give her refuge, due to her hazardous cargo and the severe damage to the hull, despite the risk of a wider environmental disaster if it broke up and sank. In an end to the stalemate between South Korea and Japan over which country would accept the risk of a 26,000 tone hazardous chemical spill, the vessel was finally towed into the Port of Ulsan on 22 April 2014.
On November 8, Typhoon Haiyan—known as Yolanda in the Philippines—made landfall in the central Philippines, bringing strong winds and heavy rains that have resulted in flooding, landslides, and widespread damage.
On 4 September 2013, Japan's nuclear regulation authority said radiation readings near water storage tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have increased to a new high, with emissions above the ground near one group of tanks were as high as 2,200 millisieverts per hour. On 31 August 2013, the plant's operator, Tepco, said workers had measured radiation at 1,800 mSv an hour near a storage tank.
On 4 September 2013, the coastal tanker Nordvik collided with ice floe in Matisen Strait, Arctic Ocean off the Russian coast. Tanker got a hole with resulting water ingress. A report by the Northern Sea Route Administration says that the Nordvik was sailing from Ob Bay to Khatanga with 4,944 tons of diesel fuel when it ran into ice in the Matisen Strait. The Nordvik sustained damage to one her ballast tanks and was taking on water, but the ingress was stopped after crews plugged the hole. The Barents Observer, citing information from the NSR Administration, reported that the vessel had permission to sail in the Kara Sea and the Laptev Sea in light ice conditions and only under escort by an icebreaker.
On 21 August 2013, Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority upgraded a radioactive water leak at the crippled Fukushima plant to a level three "serious incident", its highest warning in two years, as the operator scrambles to contain the impact on the environment.
On 16 August 2013, MV St. Thomas Aquinas a Philippine-registered passenger ferry collided with a cargo ship named MV Sulpicio Express Siete near the central city of Cebu, Philippines. The ferry was carrying 120,000 litres of bunker fuel, 20,000 litres of diesel fuel, and 20,000 litres of lube oil. The collision resulted to oil sillage which affected the Municipality of Cordova and Cities of Lapu-Lapa and Talisay, all in the Province of Cebu.
Roughly 50,000 litres of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Thailand on 27 july 2013, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) off the coast of the eastern province of Rayong, operator PTT Global Chemical said.
On 23 July 2013 the Hercules 265 offshore natural gas drilling rig caught fire.
On 16 Juli 2013, a tanker spilled more than 100 tonnes of fuel oil near the coastline in northern Cyprus. The spillage was the result of refuelling accident. Oil was being offloaded from an oil tanker to the electricity generating plant Kalecik when pressure built up in a pipe which subsequently burst. The oil spill covered a radius of seven kilometres on the southern side of the Karpas peninsula.
On the 6th July 2013 a freight train comprised of 5 locomotives and 72 tank wagons carrying crude oil from North Dakota, USA to the Saint John Refinery in New Brunswick, Canada derailed in the town centre of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Following the tragedy, some of the crude oil cargo leaked into the sewer system towards Lake Mégantic and the Chaudière River. The Environment Minister who was on site for the first days after the accident, declared that the environmental disaster was of an unprecedented magnitude. The Ministry estimated that 100,000 to 120,000 litres of crude oil had been released into the Chaudière River and had spread over 120 km.
"Starting on 31 May 2013, the development of a large-scale flood event began in Central Europe, which primarily affected Germany, but also its neighboring countries Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Poland, as well as Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia and Serbia. The meteorological cause which ultimately triggered the floods was a stable general weather pattern in Central Europe. A cut-off upper low pressure system over the European continent that was slowly shifting eastwards continuously supplied moist, unstable air of subtropical origin in a widesweep over northern to central Europe on its eastern side, which precipitated in long periods of heavy rain, especially in areas of orographic uplift in the Alps and the Central Uplands. The extent of the floods was aggravated by the extreme and widespread saturation of the soil in the affected catchment areas, which resulted from a strong precipitation anomaly during the month of May. The key areas affected were along the Danube and Elbe and their larger tributaries. (...) In terms of extent and overall magnitude, this event exceeded the August 2002 floods and the previous record event: the summer floods in July 1954. (...) In the Danube catchment area, the Danube, Lech, Regen and Inn-Salzach region were especially affected. At the confluence of the Danube and the Inn in Passau, a historical floodwater level of 12.75 m was recorded (03 Jun). In addition to Passau, the district of Deggendorf was particularly affected, where from 5th June onwards the levees were no longer able to hold back the high water levels."
On 21 April 2013 the Chinese factory fishing ship went down near Bransfield Strait at the Antarctic peninsula. The vessel Kai Xin caught fire and its 97 crew members were rescued by a Norwegian ship. Then it began to drift in unmanned and in flames, zigzagging dangerously close to glaciers.
On April 17, 2013, an ammonium nitrate explosion occurred at the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility in West, Texas, while emergency services personnel were responding to a fire at the facility. At least 14 people were killed, more than 200 were injured and many buildings were damaged or destroyed.
On 29 March 2013, the ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline, which brings Canadian crude oil from Illinois to Texas, ruptured in Mayflower, Arkansas, about 25 miles northwest of Little Rock. Approximately 5,000 barrels of oil spilled into the town of Mayflower.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said on 18 March 2013, a problem with electric power has occurred at its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, leading to the suspension of the system to cool spent fuel pools of the Nos. 1, 3 and 4 units. According to the NRA, Tepco reported to regulators that electricity went out at the plant’s accident response center at about 6:57 p.m. Monday.