Today in Hazmat History – June 14

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.


June 14, 2006

The U.S. Energy department released a report that Colorado is sitting on about a trillion barrels worth of oil in the form of oil shale reserves in the Green River basin. This is nearly as much as the rest of the world’s conventional oil reserves added together. The problem with oil shale reserves is cost of extraction and environmental considerations due to the process required to turn oil shale into oil.

June 14, 1972

The Environmental Protection Agency banned the insecticide DDT from use effective in 1973.

Hurricane Agnes was first detected on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Later, 117 people died, mostly in the Mid-Atlantic section of the U.S.

June 14, 1954

Nationwide civil defense drill was organized by the Civil Defense Administration. Over 12 million Americans would “die” in the mock nuclear attack scenario. Alarms were sounded in selected cities, at which time everyone was supposed to get off the streets, seek shelter and prepare for the onslaught. Each person was supposed to know where the closest fallout shelter was located. The civil defense drill stood as a stark reminder that our world was now living under a nuclear shadow.

June 14, 1903

Flash flooding devastated central Oregon, where 324 people died. Almost 10% of the U.S. is made up of floodplains that would normally be inundated with water at least every 100 years without man-made control systems. Most of our major cities are built within these floodplains.

June 14, 1868

Karl Landsteiner, Austrian immunologist and pathologist, was born. He discovered A, B, AB and O blood types, which reduced risk and made blood transfusion a routine medical practice. The basis of these blood types are specific proteins called antigens that are found on the surface of red blood cells and antibodies found in plasma. He also discovered the Rh factor, which explained some complications of pregnancy and birth when a mother’s and baby’s Rh factors do not match.

June 14, 1864

Alois Alzheimer, German psychiatrist and neuropathologist, was born. He is best known for writing an article describing the disease that was named after him. Alzheimer’s is a progressive, degenerative disorder that affects the brain. First symptoms are loss of memory, inability to think and understand, and gradual behavior changes. Death typically follows in 8 to 20 years. Note: My father, Eric James Cartwright, died of Alzheimer’s- and dementia-related causes in 2005.

June 14, 1736

Charles-Augustin de Coulomb, French physicist, was born. He proposed Coulomb’s law, which states that the force between two electrical charges is proportional to the product of their charges and inversely proportional to the square of distance between them. Coulomb forces are one of the principal forces involved in atomic reactions. His inverse-square relationship is also observed in gravitational force between masses.


Historical hazardous materials management events are posted 365 days a year at this LinkedIn discussion group.

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