Minimata Bay pollutionOct. 16, 1964: China becomes the fifth nation to successfully test an atomic bomb.

Oct. 16, 2002: North Korea acknowledges that it is developing a nuclear weapons program in defiance of international agreements. Four years later to the day, the North Koreans detonate their first nuclear weapon.

Oct. 16, 2004: Japan's Supreme Court orders the Japanese government to pay 71.5 million yenabout $703,000to the victims of Minimata disease. Tons of factory-waste mercury had been dumped into Minimata Bay (at right), causing nervous system disorders and brain damage in local residents. At the close of the 22-year legal effort to establish liability for the health problems, the Japanese environment minister bowed in apology to the victims.

Photo: Stephen Codrington/Wikimedia Commons

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