Top Story: The 7 Most Expensive Accidents In History


chernobyl_legacy_photo

Chernobyl Legacy Photo

The world is a dangerous place. Newspapers report on natural disasters, wars, and accidents. People are accident prone. Exact costs of accidents are difficult to determine as their consequences can be far reaching, even global. Seven accidents of epic proportions include(in order of estimated cost): Chernobyl, the BP oil spill, the Columbia shuttle disintegration, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Prestige oil spill, the Challenger space shuttle explosion, and the Piper Alpha oil rig spill.

First Accident: During a systems test on April 26, 1986, a power surge caused a massive failure at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine. The effects of the Chernobyl disaster stretched across many areas in the former Soviet Union. The Belarus Foreign Ministry estimates the fiscal cost of the damage of this accident at around $235 billion.

Second Accident: An explosion and fire on a deep water drilling rig on April 20, 2010 caused a massive oil spill that cost the BP company over $40 billion in clean-up costs and legal fees. Eleven crew members died in the explosion. The spill affected the fishing and tourism industry along the Gulf of Mexico.

Third Accident: On February 1, 2003, after a seemingly successful mission, the NASA space shuttle Columbia disintegrated during the return to Earth. All seven astronauts manning the shuttle died. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics estimates the total cost of the Columbia disintegration, the investigation, recovery efforts, and the effects of the disaster at around $13 billion.

Fourth Accident: The Pontverda Economist Board estimates that the clean-up cost of the Prestige oil spill amounted to $12 billion. In November 2002, a tank burst on the Greek-run oil tanker Prestige eventually causing it to sink after being towed away from the coast of Spain. This includes the legal costs associated with the Prestige oil spill.

Fifth Accident: The Exxon Valdez oil tanker spilled more than 11 million gallons of oil in the Prince William Sound near Alaska on March 24, 1989. Clean-up alone cost over $2 billion. Total cost including legal fees is closer to $7 billion.

Sixth Accident: On January 28, 1986 a crumbling O-ring started a chain-reaction that lead to the explosion of the Challenger shuttle shortly after its launch. All seven crew members died. The total cost of the mission, the investigation, recovery of parts, etc. is estimated at $5.5 billion.

Seventh Accident: On July 6, 1988, the Piper Alpha oil rig in the Piper oil field exploded, killing over 100 people. Risk Analysis journal quotes the financial cost as well over $3 billion.

Each of these accidents affected enormous geographic areas. Each oil spill devastated the marine ecosystem over a wide area as well as affecting the fishing industry. Some of these disasters took lives and sometimes on a large scale. Many of these disasters impacted the global economy. Some caused shifts in safety procedures while others became the precedent for defining global legal responsibilities. All of them were beyond costly. As long as people are around, the world is a dangerous place.

For more information see:

http://chernobyl.undp.org/english/docs/belarus_23_anniversary.pdf
http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/chernobyl-bg.html 
http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2010/04/30/7620/oil-spills-by-the-numbers/
http://www.space.com/19436-columbia-disaster.html
http://history.nasa.gov/columbia/Troxell/Columbia%20Web%20Site/Documents/Congress/CRS%20Summary%20of%20CAIB%20Report.pdf
http://www.theguardian.com/flash/0,5860,843967,00.html
http://worldpress.org/Europe/882.cfm
http://www.epa.gov/osweroe1/content/learning/exxon.htm 
http://www.space.com/18084-space-shuttle-challenger.html 
http://engineeringfailures.org/files/Learning%20from%20the%20Piper%20Alpha%20Accident.pdf

Marcus Harvey loves blogging about natural disasters and large accidents. If you found this article interesting, he recommends checking out an article about the most dangerous jobs in the world at WiseOpen.net.

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