Aral Sea in 2003July 6, 1988: Following reports of a gas leak, an explosion aboard the Piper Alpha oil rig in the North Sea kills 167 on board. Another 59 people are rescued.

July 6, 2003: The government of Kazakhstan announces a restoration program for the Aral Sea (at right, in 2003). Decades of Stalin-era water diversion projects had drained the inland, saltwater lake. Once the fourth-largest lake in the world, the Aral Sea is now the 11th largest. The restoration project may someday restore the northernmost portion of the Aral, but much of its mass is feared to be lost forever.

July 6, 2004: The European Union enacts a permanent ban on phthalates, carcinogenic chemicals used in bottles and soft plastic toys.

Photo: NASA

This feature is compiled by Peter Dykstra, an MNN contributor and publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate.

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