The tanker Argo MerchantDec. 15, 1683: Izaak Walton, author of "The Compleat Angler", and the world’s first outdoors writer, dies in England at age 90.

Dec. 15, 1976:  The tanker Argo Merchant runs aground off Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, spilling virtually its entire cargo of 7.7 million gallons of heating oil. Potential damage to the marine environment could not be measured, but strong currents and favorable winds kept the oil offshore, sparing the coastline. At right, the tank breaks apart on Dec. 21.

Dec. 15, 2000:   The last operating reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear station in the Ukraine is decommissioned.

Dec. 15, 2010:  The U.S. Justice Department files suit against BP and eight other companies, alleging that negligence and safety violations led to the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The suit seeks $21 billion in damages.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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