Every industrial accident provides an opportunity to work better, smarter and safer. Each month EHS Today will feature some of the biggest historic industrial accidents from that month so that we may all learn and remember.
July 5, 1990: ARCO Disaster
On July 5, 1990, an explosion and fire at the ARCO Chemical Co. complex in Channelview, Texas near Houston killed 17 workers, five of whom were permanent employees. The remaining fatalities were those of contract laborers. A treatment tank blew up during routine maintenance of a compressor at the Channelview Complex, which is now owned by LyondellBasell.
July 6, 1988: Piper Alpha Disaster
The deadliest offshore oil industry disaster occurred in the North Sea on the Piper Alpha oil production platform when an explosion killed 167 people. The rig, which was operated by Occidental Petroleum and was undergoing an oil-to-gas converstion, exploded after a gas leak.
July 6, 2013: Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster
Ian Willms, Getty Images
At 1:15 a.m., a 72-car Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway train carrying oil derailed and crashed into the town of Lac-Mégantic in Quebec. The derailment and resulting explosions killed 47 people and destroyed a large part of the downtown. The derailment was caused, in part, by malfunctioning brakes.
July 10, 1976: Seveso Disaster
Keystone, Getty Images
On July 10, an explosion at an ICMESA chemical plant released a toxic cloud into the atmosphere. The dioxin cloud killed thousands of local farm animals and forced others to be killed to protect the food chain. The disaster led to the creation of the Seveso Directive, which imposed stricter industrial regulations.
July 11, 2011: Evangelos Florakis Naval Base Disaster
IDE technologies ltd
A brush fire on the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base in Cyprus caused containers of gunpowder to detonate, creating an explosion that killed 12 people and knocked out part of the island's power.
July 17, 1944: Port Chicago Disaster
National Park Service
In what was World War II's worst disaster on the home front, two ships being loaded with ammunition for the Pacific theater troops blew up on the night of July 17, 1944. The explosion at Port Chicago Naval Magazine near San Francisco killed 320 men.
July 23, 1984: Union Oil Disaster
Tim Boyle, Getty Images
An explosion and subsequent fire on July 23, 1984 at Union Oil Co.'s refinery in Romeoville, Ill. killed 17 people. A worker found a hairline crack in a circular weld while performing a routine check of a pressure tower. As he and other employees tried to close the pressure valve on the tower, a spark caused an explosion. The refinery is now owned by Citgo.
Video footage of the explosion.