List of environmental disasters

This page is a list of environmental disasters. In this context it is an annotated list of specific events caused by human activity that results in a negative effect on the environment.

Environmental disasters by category



Human health

  • Introduction of the bubonic plague (the Plague of Justinian) in Europe from Africa in the 7th century resulting in the death of up to 60% (100 million) of the population.
  • Introduction of the bubonic plague (the Black Death) in Europe from Central Asia in the 14th century resulting in the death of up to 60% (200 million) of the population and recurring until the 18th century.
  • Introduction of infectious diseases by Europeans causing the death of indigenous people during European colonization of the Americas
  • Health effects arising from the September 11 attacks
  • Goiânia accident, human deaths resulting from dismantling a scrapped medical machine containing a source of radioactivity
  • Agent Orange use by the United States during the Vietnam War, resulting in lasting serious health effects on the Vietnamese population, such as cancer, nervous system disorders, and countless related fatalities.


Coordinates of the Industrial Environmental Disasters found on this page, shown in Google. Complete with the Wikipedia descriptions listed below built into each location.


Oil industry


  • Chernobyl disaster in 1986 in Chernobyl, Ukraine killed 49 people and was estimated to have damaged almost $7 billion of property".[1] Radioactive fallout from the accident concentrated near Belarus, Ukraine and Russia and at least 350,000 people were forcibly resettled away from these areas. After the accident, "traces of radioactive deposits unique to Chernobyl were found in nearly every country in the northern hemisphere".[1]
  • Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster: Following an earthquake, tsunami, and failure of cooling systems at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and issues concerning other nuclear facilities in Japan on March 11, 2011, a nuclear emergency was declared. This was the first time a nuclear emergency had been declared in Japan, and 140,000 residents within 20 km of the plant were evacuated.[2] Explosions and a fire have resulted in dangerous levels of radiation, sparking a stock market collapse and panic-buying in supermarkets.[3]
  • Mayak nuclear waste storage tank explosion, (Chelyabinsk, Soviet Union, 29 September 1957), 200+ people died and 270,000 people were exposed to dangerous radiation levels. Over thirty small communities had been removed from Soviet maps between 1958 and 1991.[4]
  • Windscale fire, United Kingdom, October 8, 1957. Fire ignites plutonium piles and contaminates surrounding dairy farms.[5]
  • Soviet submarine K-431 accident, August 10, 1985 (10 people died and 49 suffered radiation injuries).[6]
  • Soviet submarine K-19 accident, July 4, 1961. (8 deaths and more than 30 people were over-exposed to radiation).[7]
  • Nuclear testing at Moruroa and Fangataufa in the Pacific Ocean
  • Fallout from the Castle Bravo nuclear test at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands
  • The health of Downwinders
  • Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki, with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day.
  • Hanford Nuclear, 1986 – The U.S. government declassifies 19,000 pages of documents indicating that between 1946 and 1986, the Hanford Site near Richland, Washington, released thousands of US gallons of radioactive liquids. Radioactive waste was both released into the air and flowed into the Columbia River (which flows to the Pacific Ocean). In 2014, the Hanford legacy continues with billions of dollars spent annually in a seemingly endless cleanup of leaking underground





  • Millions of metric tons of plastic entering the ocean each year for decades due to China's attempt to recycle the world's plastic waste.[8]

See also


  1. Benjamin K. Sovacool. The costs of failure: A preliminary assessment of major energy accidents, 1907–2007, Energy Policy 36 (2008), p. 1806.
  2. Weisenthal, Joe (11 March 2011). "Japan Declares Nuclear Emergency, As Cooling System Fails At Power Plant". Business Insider. Retrieved 11 March 2011.
  3. "Blasts escalate Japan's nuclear crisis". World News Australia. March 16, 2011. Archived from the original on April 7, 2011.
  4. Samuel Upton Newtan. Nuclear War I and Other Major Nuclear Disasters of the 20th Century 2007, pp. 237–240.
  5. Benjamin K. Sovacool and Christopher Cooper. Nuclear Nonsense: Why Nuclear Power is no Answer to Climate Change and the World's Post-Kyoto Energy Challenges, William and Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review, Vol 33:1, 2008, p. 109.
  6. The Worst Nuclear Disasters
  7. Strengthening the Safety of Radiation Sources Archived 2009-03-26 at the Wayback Machine p. 14.
  8. J. R. Jambeck, "Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean," Science, February, 2015.
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