In spite of efforts to protect the environment, the number of environmental disasters in the 21st century continues unabated. All of these events have had a major impact ecology wise, but the following are the worst in terms of damage.
- The Tricolor
On December 14, 2002, the Norwegian vessel Tricolor crashed into the Bahama container vessel Kariba. The incident happened in the French Channel, and the Tricolor was damaged heavily, and it started pumping more than 2000 tons of oil in the water. Due to its location, the sunken Norwegian vessel collided with other ships in the ensuing months, causing tons of oil to leak in the ocean. This led to the death of thousands of seabirds and destruction totaling close to 100 million Euros.
- The Love Canal Chemical Waste Dump
Back in 1920, Hooker Chemicals converted part of Niagara Falls into a chemical and municipal disposal site, and measures were supposedly taken to keep chemicals from spilling out. In the 1950s, the area near the Love Canal was purchased for city building. Any ill effects from building near the chemical dump site went unheeded until activist Lois Gibbs began to trace the connection between the dump and the number of birth defects in and around the area.
Eventually it would come to light that the chemical waste dump in the area was responsible, and subsequent research revealed that the Love Canal contains more than 130 lbs. of the toxic TCDD, and that there are more than 248 chemicals in it.
- The Baia Mare Cyanide Spill
On January 30, 2000, cyanide was used in the Baia Mare gold mine in Romania, and it spilled over into the Somes River as well as into the Tisza waters. The spill, which was due to a leak in the dam, led to the outpouring of more than 100,000 cubic meters of water with a very high level of cyanide.
The waste water not only contained a lot of cyanide, but it also had other heavy and dangerous metals like zinc, copper and lead. This would eventually lead to the death of all the marine and aquatic life in the sea, and it would also affect the other wildlife in the area. Such was the extent of the damage that it reached the Danube River, and the effects were felt in Serbia and Hungary as well.
- European BSE Crisis
BSE Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) is type of cow disease. Popularly known as mad cow disease, it causes cows to behave strangely and leads to their sudden collapse because the disease attacks their brain and spinal cord. Once the disease spread, it became known that the cause was the food, as the cows were fed bones and meat from slaughtered sheep.
As the investigation deepened, it became clear that the cows contracted prions (proteinaceous infectious particles), and over the succeeding generations the ill effects slowly became apparent, leading to the spread of infected tissue. Although the UK imposed a ban on its cow meat, it came too late as the contamination had spread throughout Europe.
- Spanish Waste Water Spill
Number 5 on our list is the Spanish waste water spill that took place on April 25, 1998. On that day, one of the mining tanks in a pyrite mine in Aznalcollar, Spain exploded, releasing contaminated water and sludge in the Guadiamar River. This resulted in the river getting polluted with copper, zinc, lead, cadmium and other heavy metals.
The damage was so severe that the affected area spanned 4,634 hectares, polluting the environment with acidic water and sludge. Even though the incident happened years ago, the effect on the waters and the surrounding environment is still felt to this day.