There are now strict rules in place governing the safety measures firms must take in order to reduce the risk of accidents occurring, and these regulations are particularly stringent for companies that are involved in producing, processing or transporting dangerous goods.
For example, companies must make use of suitable dangerous goods packaging. Specialist providers such as Air Sea Containers Ltd offer a range of packaging solutions that can help businesses to store and transport their products.
Unfortunately, despite the regulations that are in place, accidents do still occur from time to time, and sometimes these events cause serious environmental harm. The following four examples all fall into this category and they made headlines around the world.
Four years ago, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico suffered a safety lapse that caused mass environmental harm and led to the deaths of 11 people. On 20 April 2010, a gas leak occurred at the rig and this triggered an explosion. The fire burned for 36 hours before the rig finally sank. Meanwhile, dangerous hydrocarbons leaked into the ocean before the well was closed and sealed.
The accident was made worse by the fact that emergency functions failed to seal the well after the initial explosion. Rig owner BP set aside over $40 billion (£26 billion) to pay fines, clean up the oil and compensate victims.
Buncefield oil depot blaze
Another major incident took place at the Buncefield oil depot in Hertfordshire. On 11 December 2005, a blast at the storage facility injured 43 people and sent plumes of black smoke high into the atmosphere. Europe’s biggest peacetime fire, it was caused by a faulty gauge that allowed thousands of gallons of unleaded petrol to be pumped into an already full tank. More than 300 tonnes of this fuel escaped and the resultant fumes ignited.
As well as polluting the air, the accident led to the contamination of local groundwater supplies. Diesel oil entered a borehole next to the depot that led to an aquifer.
Cosco Busan oil spill
On 7 November 2007, a 901-foot container ship named the Cosco Busan crashed into a fender protecting the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Visibility at the time was poor due to heavy fog. As a result of the impact, over 50,000 gallons of toxic bunker fuel escaped into the San Francisco bay. Most of the oil spread to the central San Francisco Bay and the outer coast. The cleanup operation cost around $70 million.
Another disaster involving a ship occurred on 9 November 2007 near the Black Sea. Russian vessel the Volganeft-139 sank during a violent storm. The oil tanker had around 1.3 million gallons of fuel oil on it when it broke up in heavy swells. Cleaning up after the spill cost approximately $200 million.