Despite being one of the longest rivers in Europe, river Rhine is also regarded as Europe's dirtiest river. According to estimation, toxic substances found in the water was up to more than 1000 kinds. The Rhine River has been referred to as 'Europe Drainage' and 'Europe Public Toilet'.
Sandoz Laboratory exploded in 1986 on the 1st of November 1, which was located in Basel Warehouse, Switzerland. There were around 1250 tonnes of toxic substances including sulfur, phosphorous and mercury that flowed into Rhine River. The residents nearby had an emergency evacuation. The day after the explosion the factory blocked the drainage but the stopper fell off under water pressure and, again, toxic substances flowed into Rhine River and caused even more pollution.
The explosion caused fish and any species within 160 km of Sandoz Labratory to die in one night, and the drinking water was polluted.
The Rhine Action program, which was introduced by the group The International Protection of Rhine River Committee, started a program to try and restore the river to how it used to be and they have been somewhat successful. It has been shown that the water pollution has gone down by 70-100%, accidents with substances have been reduced and the fauna from the river have recovered. The fish, but not the eel, are once again edible.
VALDEZ NARROWS, ALASKA
On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez crashed into land on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The tanker had been traveling outside the normal shipping lanes whilst trying to avoid ice. Within six hours of the grounding over 40 million litres of oil gushed from the tanker, creating an oil slick more than 20 kilometres wide. The oil would soon impact over 1,100 miles of non-continuous coastline in Alaska, making the Exxon Valdez the largest oil spill to date in U.S. waters.
The captain of the tanker had been seen in a bar, and he admitted to having some alcohol to drink that night. A later blood test showed alcohol in his blood even several hours after the accident. He was charged and found not guilty, but was was fined $50,000 and sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service in Alaska.
The bodies of more than 35,000 birds and 1,000 sea otters were found after the spill, but since bodies sink, this is thought to be a small number of the actual deaths that occurred. The estimates that were made was: 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, up to 22 killer whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs.