February 20, 2009

The 11 Most Expensive Catastrophes in History

I received this via email this morning. I apologize in advance for not knowing who the author is, or knowing if it is particularly accurate, or who has the rights to the images, but found it interesting that it was circulating, and thought I'd share.

# 11. Titanic - $150 Million

The sinking of the Titanic is possibly the most famous accident in the world. But it barely makes our list of top 10 most expensive. On April 15, 1912, the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage and was considered to be the most luxurious ocean liner ever built. Over 1,500 people lost their lives when the ship ran into an iceberg and sunk in frigid waters. The ship cost $7 million to build ($150 million in today ' s dollars).

# 10. Tanker Truck vs Bridge - $358 Million

On August 26, 2004, a car collided with a tanker truck containing 32,000 liters of fuel on the Wiehltal Bridge in Germany . The tanker crashed through the guardrail and fell 90 feet off the A4 Autobahn resulting in a huge explosion and fire which destroyed the load-bearing ability of the bridge. Temporary repairs cost $40 million and the cost to replace the bridge is estimated at $318 Million.

# 9. MetroLink Crash - $500 Million

On September 12, 2008, in what was one of the worst train crashes in California history, 25 people were killed when a Metrolink commuter train crashed head-on into a Union Pacific freight train in Los Angeles . It is thought that the Metrolink train may have run through a red signal while the conductor was busy text messaging.. Wrongful death lawsuits are expected to cause $500 million in losses for Metrolink.

# 8. B-2 Bomber Crash - $1.4 Billion

Here we have our first billion dollar accident (and we ' re only #7 on the list). This B-2 stealth bomber crashed shortly after taking off from an air base in Guam on February 23, 2008. Investigators blamed distorted data in the flight control computers caused by moisture in the system. This resulted in the aircraft making a sudden nose-up move which made the B-2 stall and crash. This was 1 of only 21 ever built and was the most expensive aviation accident in history. Both pilots were able to eject to safety.

# 7. Exxon Valdez - $2.5 Billion

The Exxon Valdez oil spill was not a large one in relation to the world ' s biggest oil spills, but it was a costly one due to the remote location of Prince William Sound (accessible only by helicopter and boat). On March 24, 1989, 10.8 million gallons of oil was spilled when the ship ' s master, Joseph Hazelwood, left the controls and the ship crashed into a Reef. The cleanup cost Exxon $2.5 billion.

# 6. Piper Alpha Oil Rig - $3.4 Billion

The world ' s worst off-shore oil disaster. At one time, it was the world ' s single largest oil producer, spewing out 317,000 barrels of oil per day. On July 6, 1988, as part of routine maintenance, technicians removed and checked safety valves which were essential in preventing dangerous build-up of liquid gas. There were 100 identical safety valves which were checked. Unfortunately, the technicians made a mistake and forgot to replace one of them. At 10 PM that same night, a technician pressed a start button for the liquid gas pumps and the world ' s most expensive oil rig accident was set in motion.

Within 2 hours, the 300 foot platform was engulfed in flames. It eventually collapsed, killing 167 workers and resulting in $3.4 Billion in damages.

# 5. Challenger Explosion - $5.5 Billion

The Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed 73 seconds after takeoff due on January 28, 1986 due to a faulty O-ring. It failed to seal one of the joints, allowing pressurized gas to reach the outside. This in turn caused the external tank to dump its payload of liquid hydrogen causing a massive explosion. The cost of replacing the Space Shuttle was $2 billion in 1986 ($4.5 billion in today ' s dollars). The cost of investigation, problem correction, and replacement of lost equipment cost $450 million from 1986-1987 ($1 Billion in today ' s dollars).

# 4. Prestige Oil Spill - $12 Billion

On November 13, 2002, the Prestige oil tanker was carrying 77,000 tons of heavy fuel oil when one of its twelve tanks burst during a storm off Galicia , Spain . Fearing that the ship would sink, the captain called for help from Spanish rescue workers, expecting them to take the ship into harbour. However, pressure from local authorities forced the captain to steer the ship away from the coast. The captain tried to get help from the French and Portuguese authorities, but they too ordered the ship away from their shores. The storm eventually took its toll on the ship resulting in the tanker splitting in half and releasing 20 million gallons oil into the sea.

According to a report by the Pontevedra Economist Board, the total cleanup cost $12 billion.

# 3. Space Shuttle Columbia - $13 Billion

The Space Shuttle Columbia was the first space worthy shuttle in NASA ' s orbital fleet. It was destroyed during re-entry over Texas on February 1, 2003 after a hole was punctured in one of the wings during launch 16 days earlier. The original cost of the shuttle was $2 Billion in 1978. That comes out to $6.3 Billion in today ' s dollars. $500 million was spent on the investigation, making it the costliest aircraft accident investigation in history. The search and recovery of debris cost $300 million.

In the end, the total cost of the accident (not including replacement of the shuttle) came out to $13 Billion according to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics..

# 2. Chernobyl - $200 Billion

On April 26, 1986, the world witnessed the costliest accident in history. The Chernobyl disaster has been called the biggest socio-economic catastrophe in peacetime history. 50% of the area of Ukraine is in some way contaminated. Over 200,000 people had to be evacuated and resettled while 1.7 million people were directly affected by the disaster. The death toll attributed to Chernobyl , including people who died from cancer years later, is estimated at 125,000. The total costs including cleanup, resettlement, and compensation to victims has been estimated to be roughly $200 Billion. The cost of a new steel shelter for the Chernobyl nuclear plant will cost $2 billion alone. The accident was officially attributed to power plant operators who violated plant procedures and were ignorant of the safety requirements needed.

# 1. 2008 Presidential Election- $800 Billion in the first two months………..

That was, of course, an incredible lie, and I responded thus in response to the others who had also received this email:

I must protest the inaccuracy of this email in the strongest possible terms.

Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States on January 20, 2009. I received this email on February 20, 2009. He signed the Multi-Generational Financial Rape Act of 2009--AKA, the stimulus package--into law 4 days ago.

Barack Obama became the most costly disaster in world history in 50% of the time allowed in this forwarded email.

I'd like to find out who the pro-Obama shill is that seeks to minimize the harm that this two-legged trainweck has caused IN JUST 28 DAYS. Somehow, I suspect his terrorist buddy, Bill Ayers.


Bob Owens

Posted by Confederate Yankee at February 20, 2009 09:32 AM

9/11 (WTC & Pentagon) should be in there around #7

Posted by: Neo at February 20, 2009 12:43 PM

Funny, and sad.

9/11 and Spendulus are deliberate, malicious acts. Kind of a special category of catastrophe.

Posted by: Suburban Scarecrow at February 20, 2009 02:20 PM

I think the most expensive catastrophy is the war LBJ declared on poverty in the 60's.

Posted by: Rick at February 20, 2009 04:27 PM

Yea .. the "War on Poverty" has been the ultimate quagmire .. with no exit strategy in sight.

Posted by: Neo at February 21, 2009 11:07 AM

Let's be realistic here. The first 10 Catastrophes that you cite from that email were accidents. President Obama was democratically elected by the American People. He inherited this mess that was created by both major political parties.

If you were the Head Potentate in Charge, what would you do or recommend be done to deal with this crisis?

Posted by: Dude at February 21, 2009 08:13 PM

I can tell you what I wouldn't do.

I wouldn't try to solve the national debt by doubling it.

I wouldn't eliminate millions of jobs by taxing business out of existence.

I wouldn't instill fear in consumers by falsely claiming this is the worst crisis in the nation's history.

I wouldn't promise one thing and then do the opposite.

I agree the presidency is a tough job. And it takes a tough person to handle it. Time will tell just how tough our new president really is.

Posted by: Just Askin' at February 22, 2009 01:35 AM

Just Askin'

Thanks for your response. I appreciate you taking the time to do so.

As I research the national debt issue I find it very difficult to find accurate information. At least that's a little easier than trying to find accurate info in regards to annual deficit spending, which generally seems to be calculated as a percentage of the yearly GDP instead of rather than in real dollars spent versus real dollars taken in by the treasury. To me, that seems to be shady accounting practices.

On October 4, 2008, Congress raised the national debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion. I'm not sure if that's what it really means or if that's calculated as a percentage of the GDP. Either way, are you suggesting that Obama has doubled that amount already?

Can you give me some examples of Obama "eliminating millions of jobs by taxing businesses out of existence", or any credible evidence that he intends to do so? I can't find any. I'll grant you that millions of jobs have been eliminated but there's no evidence that Obama's policies have contributed to that situation.

Many successful investors and respected economists the wold over with good track records for accurately predicting economic forecasts are indeed saying that our current crisis will in fact come to be known as worse than the "Great Depression". The collective wisdom and knowledge of these people suggests that this crisis will be known as the Greater Depression.

I don't claim to have enough sense to know if that's true or not. But I certainly wouldn't say that Obama's claim that we are in the midst of the worst crisis in our nation's history is false, if we're talking economic crisis.

As for promises not kept by ANY politician, well, we all know how that works. Even Senator McCain, for whom I have a lot of respect, commented on the campaign trail something to the effect of: "I think we all understand that no political candidate can keep all of the promises made during a presidential campaign". I think he nailed that correctly. Does that justify not keeping promises? No. But, I do think that's the reality of politics. That's certainly the historical track record of both major parties. Sad but true.

Posted by: Dude at February 22, 2009 09:30 AM

"I think we all understand that no political candidate can keep all of the promises made during a presidential campaign"

If you can't deliver something, don't promise it. Period.

Over promising and under delivering is the surest way to be considered a shit heel that exists. You can deliver the exact same thing, but by under promising and over delivering, you're now a hero rather than a bum.

The really good salesmen understand this intuitively and always shape customer expectations so they're more often in a position to deliver good news rather than bad.

Posted by: PA at February 24, 2009 04:02 PM

In the real world, you're correct. Politics isn't the real world. I'm not saying that it's right, just the reality of a political campaign. All campaign promises should be taken with a grain of salt. I figure if a candidate can deliver on 50% of their promises, they're doing great!

Posted by: Dude at February 24, 2009 05:59 PM

Don't forget the Iraq War.

Posted by: Adam Stanhope at February 24, 2009 08:50 PM

I started a small business in 1991. over the years we have contributed to the health and welfare of dozens of employees and their families. Our customers are safer because of the services we offer. We have consistently discounted our prices for the elderly, widows and handicapped. 18 months ago, we totally restored a badly deteriorated chimney for a handicapped woman with no money down, and to date we have recovered about 30% of the cost. Our reputation has spread throughout N.E. PA and four additional states. HOWEVER, if I took money from a customer without delivering as promised, or stole money from their house while working there... "they" would throw MY ass in jail! Let's get real!!! These executives are taking ALL they can get because there is no one to stop them. The vacation homes, luxury cars, exotic cruises and private jets have been purchased with stolen money. Now the government has become a global "Fence" rewarding the criminals by paying for all this AND at the same time Allowing them to keep the goods they have stolen from the poor and working classes. What kind of government is THAT??? Oh, by the way, My mortgage is now 70 days past due! Dumfounded in PA.

Posted by: Ernest Houdeshell at February 25, 2009 10:23 AM

I took out a 5 year fixed rate mortgage on my property 5 years ago as I belevived after the re election of the last cornel in chief this Credit crunch would happen 2 years ago.I though at the time the greed,creative accounting and lies must end soon.World com Ennron some one must wake up.but as with all meer mortals My influence is zero.
The questions I ask read like a Homer or Shakespear Tradegedy in sevral acts.
Act one
How much Toxic debt is there a realistic total?
why is the debt still rising when the value of everything else is in freefall.
Act two
Who is this money owed to and what cost of not paying can it get worse? write it off.
Act 3.
Who will have the nerve to realise that without effective regulation this will not end.
remember national debt gives bankers something to panic about. but it is fortune in the bank to a few individuals,and a huge burden to everyone.
they benifit you pay and pay.
Williewasp UK

Posted by: williewasp at February 27, 2009 03:01 PM