Top 10 Most Devastating Industrial Accidents and Disasters

Most Devastating Industrial Accidents and Disasters

There have been a lot of mentionable or notable disasters over the years resulting to great damage, injury or loss of life, some of these disasters were caused by industrial companies, either by mechanical failures or human factors by way of negligence or incompetence. The injuries and loss of life involved in an Energy Disaster are some of the highest in history and the cost of these accidents can sometimes be phenomenal, the destruction caused can sometimes take many years to clean up or rebuild. Accidents like North Sea Piper Alpha disaster of 1988 or the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will always be remembered by those affected, some of these accidents has brought about a lot of changes in safety practices and legislation, an example is the case of Piper Alpha which led to introduction of more stringent laws in the Oil and Gas sector where there is high requirement for Safety Engineering, Reliability Engineering and Risk Management

In this article, we’ve decided to focus more on safety critical Industries like the the Nuclear, Energy/Oil & Gas Industry where there are high integrity Engineering systems, hopefully we would do another list later on aviation, the following devastating accidents are in order by date not according to the rating of the disaster. Here is a list of:

Top 10 Most Devastating Accidents & Disasters in the Recent time

1.Banqiao Dam Flood (1975)

In the Henan Province of China, the Banqiao Dam flooded when Typhoon Nina struck China’s Henan Province in August 1975. Exceptionally heavy rains in the area combined with the dams poor construction caused a break-down of the Banqiao dam which was one of the 62 dams that collapsed. The resulting flash floods killed over 100,000 people immediately and over 150,000 people died from epidemic diseases and starvation. 11 million people lost their homes. It also led to the sudden loss of 18 GW of power, The death toll of this disaster totalled around 250,000. It is counted as the worst technical disaster ever, to date.

2. Amoco Cadiz (March 16, 1978)

Off the northwest coast of France, the Amoco Cadiz sank. It was a very large crude carrier (VLCC) owned by the then company Amoco which has since been merged with BP. When the Ship sank, it caused 68,684,000 US gallons of crude oil to spill. Equaling 1,635,000 barrels. No lives were lost but the global impact is still felt today. This is the largest oil spill from an oil tanker in history. Severe weather resulted in the complete breakup of the ship before any oil could be pumped out of the wreck, resulting in her entire cargo of crude oil (belonging to Shell) and 4,000 tons of fuel oil being spilled into the sea.


3. Three Mile Island accident (March 28, 1979)

On Three Mile Island, a partial nuclear meltdown occurred in one of the two United States Three Mile Island nuclear reactors in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania on March 28, 1979. It was the worst accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history. Mechanical malfunctions and operator error caused large amounts of reactor coolant to escape. 481 PBq (13 million curies) escaped into the atmosphere before the reactor was gotten under control.


4. Ocean Ranger (February 15, 1982)

Off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, a mobile off-shore oil rig named ‘Ocean Ranger’ was hit by a large wave and sank. As at the time of this accident, Ocean Ranger was the largest semi-submersible rig in the wold.  The 84 men on board made desperate attempts to escape and as a matter of fact, some of them actually made it to a lifeboat; but due to the blowing snow, high winds and waves of more than 15 metres high at the time, it proved impossible to launch some life rafts or inflate others.

5.The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Disaster (April 26, 1986)

In Prypiat, Ukrane, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant had a total meltdown. When a test of reactor number 4 got out of control the resulting steam explosion and fire killed 50 people. It is estimated that 4,000 up to several hundred thousand cancer deaths were related to the disaster. Prypiat was immediately evacuated and still remains empty. The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone that covers sections of Balarus and the Ukrane remain contaminated and is largely uninhabited today. The fallout from Chernobyl was detected as far away as Canada. This accident was as a result of a flawed reactor design that was operated with inadequately trained personnel, two Chernobyl plant workers died on the night of the accident, and a further 28 people died within a few weeks as a result of acute radiation poisoning. The Chernobyl disaster is widely considered to have been the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, it is also one of only two classified as a level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale (the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011).


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