Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The earthquake-induced disaster at the Fukushima nuclear complex in Japan has rightly brought back the safety of nuclear power to the centre of the American debate about energy.But as we evaluate the safety of our energy sources, it’s worth considering the everyday disasters of the fossil fuel economy too.
Click here to see the disasters >
Every week, miners, pipeline workers, roughnecks and plant workers die across the globe, but the tragedies in which they take part are generally smaller and less dramatic than the high-tech guessing game that riveted the world’s attention as the nuclear reactors neared meltdown.
This post is contains a long list — as comprehensive as I could make it — of serious explosions, accidents and other disasters that have occurred within the fossil fuel world over roughly the past year. I’ve included photographs when I could obtain them.
From mine collapses in China, West Virginia and Russia to natural gas explosions in San Bruno, California and Watertown, Connecticut to the Deep Horizon blowout, the fossil fuel world is dirty, dangerous and precisely what provides most of our energy. And all this doesn’t take into account the thousands of private tragedies of those who die prematurely from inhaling the byproducts of combustion.
We need to take nuclear safety concerns very seriously, but let’s not forget what the baseline for our energy system is.
Click here to read about 24 recent energy disasters >>
This post originally appeared at The Atlantic.
- The Nuclear Breakthrough That Wasn’t
- First-Person Account of Powering Up One of the World’s First Nuclear Reactors
- Future of Energy Special Report: Nuclear Power
Six people were killed at an explosion at the Kleen Energy refinery. The explosion eventually led the government to levy $16.6 million in fines because of 225 'willful' violations of safety procedures at the plant.
Two workers were killed and two others seriously injured in a blast near an asphalt tank at the Navajo Refinery.
25 workers died after a fire broke out in the Dongxing Coal Mining Company's main elevator shaft.
45 miners died in a coal mine collapse. Most suffocated from inhaling methane gas.
After a flood trapped 153 workers underground in the Wangjialing coal mine, a massive Chinese rescue effort saved most of the workers. 38 still died in the tragedy.
44 workers died in a blast at a small coal mine.
Five fatalities resulted from a blast at the Tesoro refinery in eastern Washington State.
29 miners were killed at a Massey Energy controlled mine.
11 workers were killed when an explosion rocked the BP Deepwater Horizon well. Before the environmental catastrophe ended, 200 million gallons of oil had been released into the Gulf of Mexico.
91 people were killed in an explosion at the Raspadskaya in Siberia. 129 people were also injured in both the initial blast and the subsequent rescue effort, which was hampered by a second explosion.
21 people were killed by a gas explosion.
28 coal miners were killed after an underground explosion collapsed the mine.
10 workers were killed in yet another Chinese coal mine blast.
17 people were killed in a coal mine after dynamite stored at the site exploded.
73 workers were killed in a gas explosion that struck in the middle of the night.
46 people were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning after a explosion in a mine.
One person was killed in a natural gas explosion apparently caused by tampering with a gas pipe.
Five people were killed and more than 50 people injured when a natural gas pipeline exploded in the San Francisco suburb. 38 homes were destroyed
At least 20 miners were killed in a coal mine explosion.
29 coal miners died after gas explosions at the Pike River mine in New Zealand.
27 people were killed and more than 50 people were injured in an explosion that was claimed to be caused by tampering with the pipe.
Two workers were killed after a natural gas explosion at a furniture store.
One fatality at a plant explosion. The resulting fire burned for 22 hours.
A gas pipeline explosion kills 5 and destroys 8 homes.
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