Industrial accidents are severe mishaps that result in injuries to people and damage to property or the environment. For example, an explosion or fire at a pyrotechnics manufacturing facility is an industrial accident, as is the accidental release of toxic chemicals to the environment when a storage tank fails. Types of industrial accidents vary from one place to the next, but most are a result of unsafe conditions and unsafe acts.
This article lists notable industrial disasters, which are disasters caused by industrial companies, either by accident, negligence or incompetence. They are a form of industrial accident where great damage, injury or loss of life are caused.
Other disasters can also be considered industrial disasters, if their causes are rooted in the products or processes of industry. For example, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was made more severe due to the heavy concentration of lumber industry facilities, wood houses, and fuel and other chemicals in a small area. The Convention on the Trans boundary Effects of Industrial Accidents is designed to protect people and the environment from industrial accidents. The Convention aims to prevent accidents from occurring, to reduce their frequency and severity, and to mitigate their effects. The Convention addresses primarily industrial accidents in one country that affect the population or the environment of another country. The Convention was drafted following the Seveso disaster and Sandoz disaster.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE INDUSTRY ACCIDENTS:
- May 2, 1878: The Washburn “A” Mill in Minneapolis was destroyed by a flour dust explosion, killing 18. The mill was rebuilt with updated technology. The explosion led to new safety standards in the milling industry.
- January 15, 1919: The Boston Molasses Disaster. A large molasses tank burst and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets at an estimated 35 mph (56 km/h), killing 21 and injuring 150. The event has entered local folklore, and residents claim that on a hot summer day, the area still smells of molasses.
- February 6, 1979: The (Roland Mill), located in Bremen, Germany, was destroyed by a flour dust explosion, killing 14 and injuring 17.
MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY ACCIDENTS:
- January 10, 1860: Pemberton Mill was a large factory in Lawrence, Massachusetts that collapsed without warning. An estimated 145 workers were killed and 166 injured.
- March 20, 1905: Grover Shoe Factory disaster. A boiler explosion, building collapse and fire killed 58 people and injured 150 in Brockton, Massachusetts.
- March 25, 1911: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City. This was a major industrial disaster in the US, causing the death of more than 100 garment workers who either died in the fire or jumped to their deaths. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers in that industry.
DEFENCE INDUSTRY ACCIDENTS:
- December 6, 1917: Halifax, Canada. The Halifax explosion. A ship loaded with about 9000 tons of high explosives destined for France caught fire as a result of a collision in Halifax harbour, and exploded. The explosion killed about 2000 and injured about 9000.
- October 4, 1918: T. A. Gillespie Company Shell Loading Plant explosion. An ammunition plant in Sayreville, New Jersey exploded, killing approximately 100 people, destroying 300 buildings and causing $18 million in damages.
- March 1, 1924: 1924 Nixon Nitration Works disaster. A plant for processing ammonium nitrate in Edison, New Jersey exploded, killing 24 people, injuring 100 and destroying several buildings.
- July 17, 1944: Port Chicago Disaster. A munitions explosion that killed 320 people occurred at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in Port Chicago, California.
OTHER INDUSTRIAL DISASTER:
- January 20, 1909: Chicago Crib Disaster. During the construction of a water intake tunnel for the city of Chicago, a fire broke out on a temporary water crib used to access an intermediate point along the tunnel. The fire began in the dynamite magazine and burned the wooden dormitory that housed the tunnel workers. 46 workers survived the fire by jumping into the lake and climbing onto ice floes or the spoil heap near the crib. 29 men were burned beyond recognition, and approximately 60 men died. Most of the remainder drowned or froze to death in the lake and were not recovered.
- September 21, 1921: Oppau explosion in Germany. Occurred when a tower silo storing 4,500 tones of a mixture of ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate fertilizer exploded at a BASF plant in Oppau, now part of Ludwigshafen, Germany, killing 500–600 people and injuring about 2,000 more.
- 1927 – 1932: Hawks Nest Tunnel Disaster, near Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, United States. Over several years, 476 workers died from silicosis.
- 1932-1968: The Minamata disaster was caused by the dumping of mercury compounds in Minamata Bay, Japan. The Chisso Corporation, a fertilizer and later petrochemical company, was found responsible for polluting the bay for 37 years. It is estimated that over 3,000 people suffered various deformities, severe mercury poisoning symptoms or death from what became known as Minamata disease.
- April 16, 1947: Texas City disaster, Texas. At 9:15 am an explosion occurred aboard a docked ship named the Grandcamp. The explosion, and subsequent fires and explosions, is referred to as the worst industrial disaster in America. A minimum of 578 people lost their lives and another 3,500 were injured as the blast shattered windows from as far away as 25 mi (40 km). Large steel pieces were thrown more than a mile from the dock. The origin of the explosion was fire in the cargo on board the ship. Detonation of 3,200 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer aboard the Grandcamp led to further explosions and fires. The fertilizer shipment was to aid the struggling farmers of Europe recovering from World War II.
- April 17, 2013: Fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. An explosion occurred at the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility in West, Texas, 18 miles (29 km) north of Waco, while emergency services personnel were responding to a fire at the facility. At least 14 people were killed, more than 160 were injured and more than 150 buildings damaged or destroyed.
- June 20, 2013: Coteau-du-Lac, Quebec, Canada. Two women were killed in a fireworks warehouse explosion
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