Disaster Anniversaries – March 2014

One of my old professors and current mentor, “Dr. G,” forwarded me an e-mail last week from NBC Learn. I did some research, and NBC Learn is a program that provides digitized/archived videos and stories for learning purposes (K-12 and higher ed)! Here is a description from their website:

For more than 80 years, NBC News has been documenting the people, places, and events that shape our world. NBC Learn, the educational arm of NBC News, is dedicated to making these historic stories, images and primary source documents available on-demand to teachers, students, and parents.

NBC Learn has already digitized more than 12,000 stories from the NBC News archives — one of the largest news archives in the world, dating back to the 1920s. In addition, collections are updated with current events every day.

This month, the NBC Learn newsletter highlighted 3 disasters that have anniversaries this month: the largest earthquake in North America, the Three Mile Island disaster, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Damage after the Great Alaskan Earthquake – 4th Ave in Anchorage, Alaska

50 years ago, on March 27, 1964, the largest earthquake in North America hit Alaska – magnitude 9.2! According to the USGS, the Great Alaskan Earthquake took 128 lives, and hit near the area of Prince William Sound. Severe damage was caused by tsunami-sized waves and landslides, and damages totaled around $311 million. For a NBC video gallery, click here.

Three Mile Island

35 years ago, on March 28, 1979, the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in central Pennsylvania had a meltdown, emitting radioactive gases. According to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, “this was the most serious accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant operating history, although its small radioactive releases had no detectable health effects on plant workers or the public.” For a bigger summary of the event, click-through to the USNRC website. For an NBC video gallery, click here.

Lastly, and most recently, the Exxon Valdez oil spill took place on March 24, 1989. 25 years ago, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Prince William Sound in Alaska, spilling over 11 million gallons of crude oil, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This was the largest in the United States until the approx. 240 million gallon BP oil spill in 2010. For the NBC gallery, click here.

Stay tuned for more disaster anniversaries. Unfortunately, there are many to come.

***UPDATE: Today, March 11, is also the 3 year anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. In 2011, there was a meltdown at the Fukushima power plant, triggered by tsunami waves due to an earthquake. Since then there has been extensive damage to infrastructure in the area, increased radiation exposure rates, warnings about food and water consumption and other issues, raised, including the safety of nuclear power plants (according to the Guardian). The radiation (very small levels)  and debris from the disaster has even been hitting Hawaii and the US’s Western shores. For more information, click-through to the 23-page archive on the disaster from the Guardian.

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