New Carissa on fireFeb. 10, 1935:  The New York Times publishes a story that helped promote what may be the original “urban legend.”  According to the newspaper of record, a group of boys shoveling snow into a storm sewer spotted a seven-foot alligator.   Though the rumors persist, alligators do not live in New York City’s sewer system.

Feb. 10, 1939: Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner and Fritz Strassman discover that uranium atoms can theoretically be split if bombarded with neutrons. The three are not involved in subsequent Nazi research into nuclear weapons development. Hahn wins the 1944 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work, and later strongly speaks out against the development of nuclear weapons.

Feb. 10, 1954: The village of Blons in the Austrian Alps is buried in an avalanche. As rescue workers dig out survivors, a second avalanche kills some of the rescuers. In one of the worst avalanche tragedies in history, more than 200 lose their lives.

Feb. 10, 1983: In the midst of the Iran-Iraq war, a tanker collides with and damages a platform in Iran's Nowruz Oil Field in the Persian Gulf. While Iran struggles to cap the well, Iraq bombs the oilfield. The Iranians finally cap the well after seven months with 80 million gallons of oil spilled and 11 lives lost.

Feb. 10, 1999: Efforts to prevent a spill from the grounded freighter New Carissa (above) go from bad to worse on the Oregon coast. Six days earlier, the ship and its wood-chip cargo had run aground near Coos Bay. Its fuel tanks had begun to leak on Feb. 8, and U.S. Navy salvage experts used bombs and napalm in an attempt to burn off the fuel. They succeed in splitting the ship in half, and the spilled oil damages the shoreline for nearly a month more.

Feb. 10, 2011:  Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich tells a conservative political conference that he’d like to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency.  Gingrich, who is eyeing a possible run for the Presidency in 2012, also calls for aggressive oil drilling efforts in the U.S.

Photo: ZUMA Press

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