Disasters are something that the vast majority of people don’t think about very often but have the ability to cause untold misery and destruction. Although natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions dominate headlines and cause the most amount of fear, industrial accidents can actually be just as harmful. These dangerous events can not only result in thousands of deaths but also pose a danger to the environments and surrounding populations for hundreds of years.

Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster

Taking place in the French Canadian province of Quebec, the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster happened when a freight train carrying a large number of oil tankers derailed from the track and exploded. The blast was so powerful that many of the buildings in the town’s center were completely destroyed and at least 42 people were killed, with others who have never been found presumed to also be dead.

Phillips Disaster

A mistake in the safety process at the Phillips Petroleum Company plant in Texas resulted in large amounts of highly flammable gas being released instantaneously, which resulted in a massive explosion at the facility. The blast measured 3.5 on the Richter scale and carried the force equivalent to 2.5 tons of TNT and led to other smaller explosions and fires. Police and firefighters took 10 hours to get control of the blaze, though in that time 23 employees had been killed and another 314 seriously injured.

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