Chemical Pollution: Secondary Research


27-5th March

Definition: When chemicals are released into our environment.

76,296,093 Tons of hazardous waste produced this year 11.3.17 2:54pm

India, Bhopal

1984: 30 tons of lethal methyl isocyanate gas were released into the air in from a Union Carbide plant. Thousands of people (estimates range from 2,500 to well over 8,000) died immediately. Deaths and disabilities continued to plague the populace for years following what was termed, at the time, “the worst industrial accident in history.”

Exxon Valdez

March 24th 1989: While not one of the largest spills in the world, it is considered the worst in terms of the damage to the environment. An oil tanker ran aground at Bligh Reef, Alaska, spilling eleven million gallons of oil into the fragile environment of Prince William Sound. A lack of containment and cleanup equipment compounded the problem, and even fifteen years after the spill the Prince William Sound environment was still struggling to recover from the massive damage. Response: 1990 Oil Pollution Act, required oil tankers to be double-hulled, and gave states more say in their spill-prevention standards. The spill-response equipment and safeguards procedures at Prince William Sound, loading terminal for the major tanker route on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, have been brought up to date.

 Fukushima, Japan

July 11th 2012: On this date a nuclear disaster took place, initiated primarily by the tsunami that followed the Tohoku earthquake. This natural disaster disabled the power supply and cooling of three Fukushima Daiichi reactors causing the nuclear accident on. All 3 cores largely melted in the first three days. The accident has been rated 7 on the INES scale, due to the high release of contamination, especially into the Pacific Ocean. An estimated 538,100 terabecquerels (TBq) of iodine-131, caesium-134 and caesium-137 was released. 300 tonnes every day and this will continue indefinitely as the source of the leak cannot be sealed as it is inaccessible to both humans and robots due to extremely high temperatures. Some parts of North America’s western coast have been feeling the effects for years. Not long after Fukushima, fish in Canada began bleeding from their gills, mouths, and eyeballs. Elsewhere in Western Canada, independent scientists have measured a 300% increase in the level of radiation. According to them, the amount of radiation in the Pacific Ocean is increasing every year.


Chernobyl, Ukraine

April 26th, 1986: The reactor in a nuclear power plant exploded due to experiments workers were conducting combined with a design problem that had been over looked along with other factors. With an increase in power 100 times more than its normal output, the reactor 4 core started to break down from the intense heat generated and created a power surge. This lead to other problems such as fuel assembly’s fragmenting, steam build up and steam tubes bursting. The pressure created forced the 1000ton biologic shield of the reactor to blow off, completely destroying the roof of the reactor and this is what lead to the exposure of the core to the atmosphere with a fire erupting in the building. This fire burning on graphite lasted 10 days even with firefighters trying to help. The explosion caused a release of masses of radioactivity elements into the atmosphere and contaminated the thousands of kilometres of clean air over most parts of Europe. Due to fear, the men in charge of the plant and higher bosses initially lied to people and sugar coated the accident saying air surrounding isn’t as bad, this meant residents nearby were breathing in the highly contaminated air without knowing what had happened as the radioactivity was invisible and didn’t smell, along with a lack of fear to do something about the disaster from services as they were told it wasn’t that bad. Finally, when the men came to their senses the residents were evacuated, and there was a huge crackdown on trying to solve the situation as quickly and efficiently as possible. To put an end to the leakage and prevent any other explosions, 3 men volunteered to swim in the radioactive waters to release it from the. These men potentially saved millions more lives. The death toll death toll of Chernobyl was initially low with only 2 people dying from the explosion, and 29 from radiation poising. However, tens of thousands were affected by the exposure.

Short term effects: Severe exposure to radiation is in treatable and atrocious. It begins with dizziness and vomiting. Next sensitive tissues such as the tongue swells and skin blacken. Cells in your body breakdown DNA and is grotesquely transformed. Later on, skin falls off and you slowly and painfully die. It has been claimed that men’s skin on their legs “fell down like a pair of loose socks” and some brown eyes turned blue.

Long term effects: The tens of thousands of residents and volunteers to help, roughly 25,000 died due to radiation poising, and an estimated 70,000 are now disabled, and a rise in mutated children, cancers and tumours have rapidly increased since the accident too. (7000 people developed thyroid cancers) Today over 6000 babies born in Ukraine have heart defects and about 85% of children born in Belarus are considered Chernobyl victims as they carry genetics of radioactivity. Animals and plants along with water supply were too all effected by the leakage.

Although the Chernobyl disaster was an absolute tragedy and a terrifying situation, I find the whole story extremely intriguing and as I had only really heard about it briefly before, I really enjoyed researching it and was fascinated by how much damage it created and the science and human action along with the after math of it all. I also really enjoyed watching this documentary on by the BBC on the disaster and gave me a true to life insight on what could have really happened. After watching it I was shaken as it revealed how truly scary the disaster was and helped me really understand the consequences of nuclear power and chemical/air pollution.

Images of the unfortunate victims who have been affected by the disaster:


Damage from the explosion:


Chernobyl today:



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