1. On 17 October 1956, the Queen Elisabeth II opened Reactor number 1 at Calder Hall, bringing into service the world's first industrial scale nuclear power station.

  2. After an accident involving radioactive material, a large area around an atomic facility in the Urals (Russia) becomes contaminated.

  3. The IAEA is the world´s center of cooperation in the nuclear field. It was set up as the world´s "Atoms for Peace" organization in 1957 within the United Nations family. The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.

  4. The Federal State Unitary Enterprise ‘Production Enterprise Mayak’ was founded for the industrial production of plutonium for nuclear weapons. It is located in Cheljabinsk province in the South Urals, not far from the cities of Kishtym. An explosion of a tank with liquid radioactive waste occured on September 29, 1957. The accident released large amounts of fission products that contaminated an area covering 300 x 50 km, later called the Kyshtym footprint. The Kyshtym accident measured as a Level 6 disaster on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

  5. Reactor accident at Windscale (Sellafield, England). 35 fatalities.

  6. The new Aswan dam (Sadd al-Ali) makes 3 annual harvests possible, instead of only 2, extends the arable surface by 25% and covers 70% of the country's electricity needs. The number of edible fish in the reservoir grows, even crocodiles and tapirfish return to the area. Negative side-effects are that the nutritious sediment remains above the dam, making fertilisers necessary; the reservoir becomes eutrophied and water hyacinth teems unchecked; far more water evaporates than expected, due to the large surface area and the river bed is less well cleaned, due to the lack of flooding; the Nile delta is no longer fed by sediment. The clear positive effect is security from drought.

  7. The Aral Sea has shrunk to 2/3 of its original size, and has almost been split in two. Natural inflow from the Amu Darja and Syr Darja has been cut off by irrigation systems. The sea is becoming oversalinated, fish populations are falling. Since pesticides flow into the sea, the food which gains water from the Aral is also contaminated. Mammal mortality in the region is on the rise, as is anaemia. The overall climate in the area has become more continental.

  8. In June 1961, electricity generated by nuclear power is fed into the public grid for the first time in the Federal Republic of Germany from the Kahl Nuclear Power Plant.

  9. The World Wide Fund (as it is still known in USA and Canada) is founded. It now has 4.7 million members (individual and organisations) worldwide. Its goals are the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity, through conservation of species and habitats, and changes in consumer behaviour.

  10. On 13 December 1961, the British tanker the Allegrity ran aground off the coast of Caerhays, near Saint Austell in the Channel. 800 tonnes of petroleum were spilled in the incident.

  11. "Silent Spring", a book by US biologist Rachel Louise Carson (1907 - 1964) is published. The German translation appears in 1970, and has a major impact on public opinion, to some extent initiating the environmental debate.

  12. World Day for Laboratory Animals is a United Nations recognized day of international commemoration of the suffering and killing of millions of innocent sentient beings in laboratories throughout the world.

  13. Marine biologist Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring, calling attention to the threat of toxic chemicals to people and the environment.

  14. The World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations, adopted in 1961, provides humanitarian aid in emergencies, but also supports long-term economic development to ensure independent food supplies.

  15. The European Diploma of Protected Areas is a prestigious international award granted since 1965 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to protected, natural and semi-natural areas and landscapes of special European importance for the preservation of biological, geological and landscape diversity. The Diploma is awarded to protected areas because of their outstanding scientific, cultural or aesthetic qualities, but they must also be the subject of a suitable conservation scheme. The first areas to be awarded the Diploma were the Camargue National Reserve (France), the Peak District National Park (United Kingdom) and the Hautes Fagnes Nature Reserve (Belgium).

  16. A U.S. B52 bomber collided with KC-135 tanker during mid-air flight refuelling over the coast of Spain. The tanker was completely destroyed in the incident, while the B52 broke apart, spilling four hydrogen bombs from its broken fuselage. The non-nuclear weapons in two of the bombs detonated on impact with the ground, contaminating of a 490 acre area with radioactive plutonium. One of the devices was recovered from the Mediterranean Sea.

  17. The "Anne Mildred Brovig" spills c. 20,000 t oil.

  18. On September 18, 1966 the tanker Seestern lost 1,700 tons of crude diesel oil which was quickly pushed by winds and tides onto the Medway Estuary, UK, affecting some 8,000 acres of wetlands. An estimated total of 5,000 birds were killed by this oil spill.

  19. Owing to methyl mercury pollution in water, the Swedish Medical Board prohibits consumption of fish from 40 lakes and rivers. The source of the pollution is thought to be seed treated with mercury.

  20. Since a pulp and paper combine came into operation on the south bank, the Epischura, 98% of the zooplankton mass, and one of the first links in the food chain, have died out. This has seriously upset the ecological balance of the lake.

  21. Naturopa is an organ of the Council of Europe (all its member states are also members of Naturopa). Its particular goal is to improve public awareness of the environment and nature conservation in Europe.

  22. c. 120,000 t oil are spilt from the Torrey Canyon and cause the largest oil slick to date off the British, French and Dutch coasts.

  23. First evidence of ozone depletion.

  24. On 21 January 1968, a US B-52 bomber with several nuclear weapons on board crashed near the Thule Air Base in North-Western Greenland, releasing several kilos of weapons grade plutonium. The plutonium contaminated the immediate snow and ice at the crash site and was carried by high winds and water over an extensive area.

  25. The Club of Rome is founded to debate emerging global problems. The key impulse came from Aurelio Peccei (1908 - 1984), along with Alexander King, Dennis Gabor, and later Hasan Ozbekhan.

  26. From 4-13 September 1968, an intergovernmental conference of experts took place at UNESCO House in Paris on 'the scientific basis for the rational use and conservation of the resources of the biosphere'. The 'Biosphere Conference', as it became to be known, was organized by UNESCO, with the active participation of the United Nations, FAO and WHO , and in co-operation with IUCN and ICSU's International Biological Programme (IBP). More than 300 delegates from 60 countries took part, coming from a wide variety of scientific fields, management and diplomacy. This was the first world-wide meeting at the intergovernmental level to adopt a series of recommendations concerning environmental problems and to highlight their growing importance and their global nature. The conference was the occasion on which the n ow familiar word 'biosphere' made its entry into international life and where it w o n its recognition in our present language, having been confined previously to those limited circles familiar with the writings of Vernadsky or Teilhard de Chardin.

  27. The first environmental ministry at state (Land) level is set up in Bavaria.

  28. The Federal Home Office gains a department of the environment.

  29. Unrecognised offenders discharged highly toxic Thiodan into the river Rhine near Bingen which caused the decease of at least 40 million whitings and eels downstream in Germany and the Netherlands.

  30. The European Declaration on Nature Conservation is passed at the conference.

  31. Bleach is accidentally added to a rail truck carrying hydrochloric acid, creating a large cloud of chlorine gas. There are 67 casualties, some with serious respiratory problems.

  32. The first international environmental authority, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, is run by an administrator with cabinet rank, although without the status of a minister.

  33. In 1970 the Council of Europe launched European Conservation Year.

  34. The tanker Othello releases between 60.000 and 100.000 tons of fuel after a collision in bay of Tralhavet , Sweden.

  35. Responding to widespread environmental degradation, Gaylord Nelson, a United States Senator from Wisconsin and an environmental activist, called for a national day to celebrate the earth, to be held on April 22, 1970. The first Earth Day had 20 million participants and celebrants across the United States. Earth Day is now observed each year on April 22 by more than 500 million people and national governments in 170 countries.

  36. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or sometimes USEPA) is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress. The EPA was proposed by President Richard Nixon and began operation on December 2, 1970.

  37. Bird of the Year 1971 is the Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus).

  38. The act aims to safeguard public health by limiting the number of lead and other metal substitute compounds in fuels for Otto engines. Where public health is not at issue, supply interruptions, competitive distortions and fuel performance loss should be avoided.

  39. The convention concentrates on the bird and other species whose habitat is wetland. It also supports conservation and sustainable development or use of the areas. It is legally binding in civil law.

  40. Bird of the Year is organised by Naturschutzbund Deutschland; Herbert-Raius-Str. 26; D-53225 Bonn; Tel.: +49 228 975610; Fax: +49 228 9756190