Today in Hazmat History – April 5

Hazmat History

By Richard T. Cartwright, PE, CHMM, (IHMM, AHMP and APICS) Fellow

The saying, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it” is more than a cliché. It is a reminder that we must constantly be learning from the past. Here’s a look back at major historical events that happened today in the world of hazardous materials.

April 5, 2011

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant leaking highly radioactive water into Pacific Ocean was halted by injecting 1,500 liters of “water glass” (sodium silicate) where contaminated water had been seeping through.

April 5, 2010

Coal dust explosion occurred at Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, where 29 miners died. The Mine Safety and Health Administration issued 369 citations for what it determined was an entirely preventable tragedy.

April 5, 1976

President Gerald Ford signed the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act, which authorizes commercial development of three naval petroleum reserves to create a strategic petroleum reserve. This legislation was result of oil shortages created by the Arab oil embargo.

April 5, 1936

Four days of nearly continuous twisters began striking Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee, where 466 people died. F5 twister (most destructive class of tornado) devastated Tupelo, Mississippi. Winds of more than 261 mph were observed.

April 5, 1923

Firestone began its first regular production of balloon tires for commercial use. These were large-section, thin-walled tires with a small bead. Pneumatic tires provide better road grip, less vibration, more comfort and lower fuel consumption.

April 5, 1894

Lawrence Bell, American aircraft designer and aircraft manufacturer was born. He founded Bell Aircraft, whose experimental X-1 rocket-propelled airplane first broke the sound barrier in level flight in 1947. His firm also produced America’s first jet-propelled airplane, the world’s first commercial helicopter, the world’s fastest and highest-flying airplane (Bell X-1A), and first jet vertical takeoff and landing plane.

April 5, 1827

Lord Joseph Lister, English surgeon and medical scientist was born. He was the founder of antiseptic medicine and a pioneer in preventive medicine. Influenced by Louis Pasteur’s germ theory, Lister resolved to keep such organisms away from wounds. He introduced the use of carbolic acid (phenol) as a disinfectant used on bandages, ligatures, utensils, as well as for direct use on wounds and washing surgeon’s hands. Modern medical practice continues to follow Lister’s principle that wounds must be kept free of bacteria, though sterilization has replaced most antiseptic use.

April 5, 1815

First of a week-long series of volcanic explosions occurred at Mt. Tambora in Indonesia. Death toll was at least 71,000 people (the deadliest eruption in recorded history), of whom as many as 12,000 were killed directly by the eruptions. Most deaths from the eruption were from starvation and disease, as the eruptive fallout ruined agricultural productivity in the region. Massive eruption created a global sulfate aerosol veil in the stratosphere, which resulted in pronounced climate perturbations. The following year became known as the “year without a summer.”Historical hazardous materials management events are posted 365 days a year at this LinkedIn discussion group.

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