Nevado del RuizNov. 13, 1974: Nuclear plant worker Karen Silkwood is found dead in a roadside accident while on her way to meet a New York Times reporter inquiring about safety at Kerr-McGee plutonium facility near Oklahoma City. Police say Silkwood fell asleep at the wheel, but investigators found evidence that she may have been run off the road. Kerr-McGee later settles a lawsuit brought by Silkwood’s father for $1.3 million.

Nov. 13, 1985: The Nevado del Ruiz volcano (at right) erupts, burying several Colombian villages and killing more than 23,000 people. The town of Armero loses 20,000 of its 29,000 inhabitants.

Nov. 13, 2005: An estimated 100 metric tons of toxic chemicals are released into the Songhua River, contaminating the sole source of drinking water for millions of people on both sides of the Russia-China border. The accident is now regarded as a turning point in China’s ability to acknowledge and address environmental problems.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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