All throughout the world we have devastating floods, earthquakes, oil spills, and many other disasters that have affected us in terrible ways, causing deaths and terrible damage. But what if some of these situations could have been prevented? Wouldn’t it have been worth it to save a few lives or prevent terrible destruction from taking over?
Disaster is all around us. It teaches us a lot of things, like how to be thankful for what we have. Nature and other forces can take things away from us, sometimes in the blink of an eye.
But collected on this list is human error. A list of disasters and catastrophes that could have easily been prevented if the people in charge had simply chosen to do the right thing. Unfortunately, we can’t always count on others to do the right job. And so, many suffer the consequences of their actions.
Some of the catastrophes on this list could have been avoided if the appointed person had decided to take charge instead of standing on the side lines. In other tragedies, people just weren’t paying close enough attention. Here are fifteen catastrophes that could have and should have been avoided.
15. Fukushima Nuclear Plant Disaster
Considering Japan has felt the impact of what a nuclear weapon can really do, it is certainly understandable why they have made a vow to never create nuclear weapons themselves. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t found other ways to make sure that nuclear uses are put to the test. While they may not be producing nuclear weapons, Japan has certainly been putting their nuclear power plants to great use. For quite a few decades, they have been using these plants for electricity. The first plants put into use were done so in 1966. Since then they have been used for the purpose of electricity, accumulating about 54 nuclear power plants. In March of 2012, a tsunami, which was triggered by an earthquake, was sent hurdling through the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. The tsunami caused three of the plant’s reactors to meltdown, resulting in terrible casualties. Because the company did not follow the proper guidelines from Japan’s nuclear regulatory commission, many lives were lost. It’s known that over 20,000 died because of the earthquake and tsunami. But if the company had simply followed the rules, the meltdown of the reactors never would have happened.
14. Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
One of the worst oil spills in history happened due to the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The tragedy caused eleven people to lose their lives and many factors played out that left quite a few people at fault, considering it could have been prevented. For almost three months, the rig gushed oil into the Gulf of Mexico. After it was done causing havoc, almost five million barrels of oil had been pumped into the sea. It turned out that BP (British Petroleum) hadn’t been paying attention.
The national oil spill commission was dedicated to providing a report which found nine different decisions which came from management, giving the company more time and more money, however, they believe it is possible that these decisions also led to the inevitable spill. It’s completely understandable that mistakes happen, after all it’s a part of life, but it sounds like these employees should have been paying closer attention to their data and inspections.
13. Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster
As well know, NASA assures us that they know exactly what they are doing. However, no one is perfect, and even NASA is capable of making mistakes within its great team of geniuses.
In 2003 the space shuttle Columbia, was reentering the Earth’s atmosphere, but something wasn’t quite right. The shuttle was vaporized once it entered the atmosphere, killing all seven of its crew members inside the shuttle. The reason behind it was a chunk of insulating foam broke free from one of the external fuel tanks, striking the left wing of the shuttle. The damage done wasn’t truly known until re-entry, so officials simply stated that even if they had known about the foam breaking lose, there wasn’t anything that they could have done in order to save them. But this type of safety issue is believed by many to be something that could have been prevented. Studies that go back to 1990 state that foam tiles were considered vulnerable points. Due to ice build up, it was possible that the foam tiles could break free.
12. Hamlet Processing Plant Fire
Processing plants almost always have certain safety inspections that need to pass in order to continue to run. However, it seems that Imperial Foods processing plant located in Hamlet, North Carolina, somehow went for ten years without one single inspection.
The plant was employed with almost 200 people in the year 1991 when tragedy hit. The problems stemmed from padlocked doors. A manager felt padlocks would stop people from stealing, opening doors too much, and letting flies into the building. Then, on September 3rd, 1991, a hydraulic line failed. This caused the hydraulic fluid to spew everywhere. It wouldn’t have been a problem except the gas burners from the fryer vat caused the fluid to ignite. It was an absolutely terrible fire and ended up killing at least 25 people. There was certainly no excuse for the missing of inspections, especially considering they were long overdue, and unlocked emergency exits should have been in place.
11. New Zealand Coal Mine Disaster
The Pike River Coal Mine located in New Zealand, was meant to bring in the big bucks. Its opening was to be in 2008, however, due to some problems with the machinery, the opening date was moved to 2010. Perhaps it was an omen for things to come, one that no one truly heeded.
As it turns out, the owners, who were already being pressured by those who finance them, were feeling rushed regarding productivity, letting safety fall to a severe low on the priority scale. Shockingly, only one active sensor was put in place to pick up on levels of methane. Sadly, the sensor failed and what came next was terribly devastating. In November 2010, when workers scattered the location, there was an explosion, leaving twenty-nine workers trapped inside the mine. Rescuers tried to make their way down into the mine, but couldn’t move further due to the risks of the methane gases and more explosions. Over the span of the next few days, there would be three more explosions. The miners lost their lives, an unfortunate event to say the least. If the right measures had been put in place, these people might still be alive today.
10. Air France Flight 447 Crash
When it comes to airplanes and safety, we want to be assured that the crew of a plane knows exactly what they’re doing. It gives us peace of mind and lets us know that we don’t have anything to worry about if something goes wrong. It helps to know that you are in good hands. However, the crew of Flight 447 of Air France didn’t appear to know what they were doing when their actions led to the deaths of all of their passengers.
The plane that these passengers had boarded had very sophisticated auto-pilot technology. It allowed the pilots ease of access, meaning that normally the only interaction from the pilots would be for liftoff and landing which altogether amounted to about three minutes of actual manual control. However, the plane was flying through a thunderstorm when the speed sensor on the plane became clogged and frozen in ice. This started giving inaccurate readings to the crew on board. According to an investigative report which was done by the French government, the crew on board was inexperienced and had grown accustomed to the automation of the plane. This led to the stalling of the plane and the death of all on board.
9. Kiss Nightclub Fire
They say it’s never smart to play with fire. Especially if the area of play is very susceptible to fires and hasn’t been fitted with the right means of protection against a disaster. The Kiss Nightclub, located in Sao Paulo, Brazil, quickly found out that it isn’t very smart to allow bad equipment in an unprepared area.
Kiss Nightclub was a booming place to go, filled with bands on certain nights, and certainly a lot of people. The club was said to be able to hold at least 2,000 people. However, under Brazilian law, its maximum allowance was only 1,300. Even worse, the building did not have any fire exit signs, sprinklers, emergency lighting, or working fire extinguishers. And yet, the band which was playing that night had brought in machines designed for pyrotechnics to give their show more of a bang. Unfortunately, they used machines meant for outdoor use rather than indoor. Because of this, the machines caught certain parts of the building on fire which then ensued the fire. People were scattering to get out, and because there were no clearly marked exits, a lot of people ended up dead, with a death count of more than 230 people.
8. New Orleans Levee Failure During Katrina
Louisiana is certainly no stranger to hurricanes. Over the past few years they have been devastated by some of the worst storms the United States has ever experienced. But what about the measurements put in place in order to prevent further deaths and devastation? Did it matter that they tried to protect themselves from the forces of nature that we can’t control?
There was once a levee system in place designed to help prevent terrible situations like the one Katrina caused. However, due to its faulty design, many people lost their lives because of large amounts of flooding which came from the levee system failing. Over 1,800 people lost their lives because of mistakes that were made while creating the levee, as well as the want for reduction in cost. The people in charge decided that the money mattered more than the safety, thus the devastation that was caused by Katrina was made worse because of poor choices.
7. The Dust Bowl
The Dust Bowl was a terrible and infamous event that lasted for nearly a decade. It devastated the heartland of America and did terrible things to an undetermined amount of people. This awful period exists as a reminder that nature’s power and the surface of Earth can be very deceiving. Yet many people kept arriving during the dust, having no idea what they were getting themselves into. Groves of individuals flocked to the land that they thought was going to be plentiful and green, but they couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Once the dust bowl swept through, terrible things ensued over a span of ten years. Breathing problems, disease and even famine, were all factors that came into play. People weren’t ready for the terrible climate they were fated to endure. But what makes it so sad is that people could have been warned, and they weren’t.
6. Haiti Earthquake
Considering the world has been progressing forward in development, it often comes as a surprise to many that the country of Haiti is so poor and underdeveloped. When compared to the rest of the world, it’s certainly a sad subject, but what made their situation much worse was the earthquake which hit them in 2010. But what makes this such a tragic event is that geologists had been predicting the earthquake for many years.
When it comes to fault lines, one of the world’s largest just happens to run near the Haitian capital of Port-Au-Prince. For two and a half centuries, this fault line has been slowly moving along a few millimeters at a time. The question was never “if” it was going to happen. Geologists knew that it was only a matter of time and that the only thing they could do was wait. Then, in 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti. This, of course, resulted in the loss of many lives, over 300,000 in fact. That’s a very large number due to a natural disaster. And while many people claim nothing could be done, it does make a person wonder if there were possibly any preventive measures which could have been taken.
5. The Draining of Lake Peigneur
At one time, oil rigs didn’t exactly think twice when it came to drilling. They simply did their jobs and it was as simple as that. Nothing too complicated was usually involved. However, when a Texaco oil rig decided to start drilling in the 80s, they should have thought twice about exactly where they were drilling.
In the year 1980, an oil rig under the Texaco name was doing what it was supposed to do; drilling for petroleum at what was once Lake Peigneur, a lake situated in Louisiana. However, the lake was sitting right on top of a salt mine. Once the workers punched through to the mine, they knew they had made a mistake. At first, it seemed that the water was only trickling down into the mine. But after a period of time, the workers had created a whirlpool which sucked down barges, the entire drill platform, and around 65 acres of land. And if things didn’t already seem terrible, a geyser would later shoot out of the hole, 400 feet into the air. This was a situation that could have easily been avoided if the people of the rig had properly surveyed the area, looking for anything that might cause issues.
4. Boston Molasses Explosion
They say that being a construction worker can be a very difficult job. While this may be true, it doesn’t take away from the fact that if you are in the profession, always doing a good job is definitely something to make sure of. However, that wasn’t what Aurthur Jell was doing when he decided to only do half of the work he was supposed to do.
In 1919, Boston’s North end got a little more than they bargained for on a very hot day. Aurthur Jell, a construction worker who was given the task of building a storage tank for molasses, didn’t follow the correct procedures. He failed to check the tank for any type of leaks. The pressure inside the fermenting tank began to build cracks on the inside of the tank as it expanded, and before long, all of the molasses in the tank broke free, sending a wave of molasses through the streets.
3. Sidoarjo Mud Flow
Many people may be familiar with the term “mud volcano” but for those who do not know, it is a geological phenomenon which starts beneath the surface. Underground pools of mud become filled with pressure and spew out above ground. Most of the time, they don’t pose great threats, but there are a select few that have caused terrible damage over the years.
The people who were working for the PT Lapindo Brantas drilling company faced the wrath of a terrible mud volcano when they decided to drill into areas that many experts and drillers advised the group not to drill at, in East Java, Indonesia. They were certain that they could find natural gas in the land, but they couldn’t have been more wrong. The drill was tearing away at the ground, and it was doing so near a fault line, which, of course, resulted in seismic activity. The result of their actions ended up being an eruption of lots of mud. The eruption was started in 2006 and continues today.
2. Aberfan Mudslide Disaster
Over a period of fifty years, people of Wales were working hard in the mines near Merthyr Mountain day in and day out. During this time, the workers decided to put all of the debris and rocks on the side of Merthyr Mountain in an area that was just above a small village known as Aberfan. This wouldn’t have been a problem except for the fact that the workers did this for fifty years, which eventually led to a very large pile of debris. Eventually, the people of the town started complaining that the pile was so large that it blocked the sun. The people responsible for the pile and its location did not heed the town’s complaints and continued to pile on the debris.
In October of 1966, after many days of rain, water mixed in with the debris pile, causing a huge mudslide which inevitably hit the town. The mudslide killed 144 people, 116 of those being children.
1. Vajont Dam Breaking
In the 1920’s, SADE, the Italian energy company was aspiring to do something extraordinary by building a dam that could block up the waters of the Vajont River. It took quite a few years for SADE to convince officials that this was a good idea. After SADE assuring everyone that they had surveyed the land and even its history of landslides, people were starting to give them the go ahead. However, experts surfaced stating that sides of the Monte Toc would break off, collapsing into the basin if they decided to construct the dam. SADE did not listen and in 1959, they finished the construction on the dam. Then, in 1960, they started filling it up.
In 1963, due to a massive landslide accompanied by lots and lots of rain, the dam broke, sending a 750 foot tall wave down where the river once flourished. The wave ended up killing 2,000 people in its path.