We like to mark-up natural disasters to everything from The Weather Channel to a large, invisible bearded man who hangs out on clouds and doesn't wear pants (the ghost of Ernest Hemingway). And while these things may be true, there's no avoiding the fact that we ourselves are responsible for many of the planet-murdering buttfucks that befall our delicate population.
#6. The Draining of Lake Peigneur
In carpentry there's a saying: "Measure twice, cut once." Oil drillers used to have a similar saying: "Fuck measurements, let's rock."
"If there's not a hole in the ground by the time I finish this pipe, someone's getting a mustache headbutt."
In 1980, a Texaco oil rig was drilling for petroleum at Lake Peigneur, a Louisiana lake that sits directly on top of a salt mine, and has an average depth of six feet. Were it a swimming pool, it wouldn't have been safe for diving, so it probably wasn't surprising to anyone but the drillers when they punched a hole through the top of the mine.
At first the water simply trickled down below. But as the salt dissolved the hole expanded, and by lunch time they'd created a whirlpool that managed to suck the drilling platform, several barges and 65 or so acres of land into the lake. Because the water was going into the mine faster than the air could get out, spectators were treated to a geyser of water and debris that shot 400 feet into the air.
Fortunately no workers were killed by the whirlpool. Those on the platform, while unable to do their job properly, were smart enough to haul ass when things started getting a little too real, as were the salt miners below.
Probably something like this.
Though all the evidence was literally flushed down the drain, it was a bit difficult for Texaco to sidestep the mystery of the suddenly salty lake and giant-ass waterfall that wasn't there before, and were forced to pay out over $40 million dollars, an amount of money that ensured the oil industry would never again cause an environmental disaster.
#5. The Boston Molassacre
The life of a construction worker at a molasses factory is a difficult one. Or at least we assume it is, because one named Aurthur Jell decided to half-ass it when he built a molasses storage tank in the North End of Boston. He never bothered to check his tank for leaks of any kind before calling it a day, leaving the locals to try and plug up its many cracks (presumably while joking about construction being slower than molasses).
"Get it? Because it's molasses. Seriously though, I've put you all at considerable risk."
As more leaks appeared, they knew the sight of molasses oozing from the cracks served as a warning of the disaster that could follow. So they hid them by painting the tank a molasses shade of brown.
January of 1919 was unseasonably warm. As the fermentation process in the tank continued to produce carbon monoxide, the pressure inside continued to build, causing the cracks within the tank to expand like a trucker's waistline. Eventually the rivets shot out of the tank, unleashing a 15-foot tall tidal wave that covered Boston, providing residents with a valuable look at what a melted Stay-Puft would have really done to New York at the end of Ghostbusters.
It would not have been a comedy.
The wave traveled through the city at 35 miles an hour, lifting a train off the tracks and crushing buildings in its sweet, sticky fury. The hot air released from the tanks also created a blast wave that reportedly threw vehicles off the road, though considering this took place in Gatsby's America we can only assume this meant a maelstrom of horses and Model Ts.
The military, police and the Red Cross joined in on the rescue effort, and the final toll would be 21 deaths, countless injuries and 87,000 man hours of the nastiest cleanup outside of an oil tanker spill.
The owners of the tank tried to pin the explosion on anarchists (presumably after first blaming hooch parlors and the women's suffrage movement) but in the end they were found liable and were forced to pay damages. The tank was never rebuilt, but to this day some Boston residents claim you can still smell the molasses on hot summer days.
#4. Sidoarjo Mud Flow
If you're not familiar with a "mud volcano" we're going to suggest you not Google it as it almost certainly doubles as the name for a certain kind of fetish video. But it also refers to a geological phenomenon where underground pools of mud become pressurized and sometimes spew out to the surface.
Want to know what happens when you stand on top of one of those and start drilling into it?
You can ask the people at the drilling company, PT Lapindo Brantas, who began an operation in East Java, Indonesia to drill for natural gas (to a depth where no gas had previously been found), on a fault line a short distance away from the Ring of Fire. In an attempt to avoid a tragedy that even Ray Charles could see coming, more experienced drillers tried to warn them to stay away from the dangerous terrain, but the PT team just chuckled, swilled a beer and insisted that it was totally going to work.
Having already spit in the face of sensibility, the drill team decided it was time to cock punch the law as well, so in the second phase of drilling they opted not to use the required protective casing to stabilize the drill site, presumably subcontracting the job out to the Foot Clan.
Unsurprisingly, running a giant drill next to a fault line tends to result in seismic activity, and the result was the eruption of a mud volcano which continues to this very moment, spewing 88,000 cubic feet of bullshit each day and leaving 1.5 million people without homes as a result.
The drill team responsible first tried to pass the blame off on an earthquake that occurred two days before in Central Java, forming faults as far as their drill site 186 miles away. When scientists pointed out that an earthquake that severe would've shut down drilling (which obviously it hadn't), PT Lapindo Brantas was ordered to pay $278 million.
The higher-ups of Lapindo Brantas tried to sell their company to an off-shore group for $2, effectively dodging responsibility for the disaster. But the government stepped in and said if they intended to get out of paying victims for their losses, they'd have to get more creative than that. Some analysts believe the company will next declare bankruptcy in an effort to do that very thing.
That'll do, douchebags. That'll do.