Rescuing a gray whaleOct. 13, 1972: U.S. Congress establishes the Office of Technology Assessment to, among other things, measure the potential health and environmental risks of new technologies and inventions. The office is abolished in 1995.

Oct. 13, 1977: Allied Chemical Corporation settles a lawsuit brought by the state of Virginia after years of dumping Kepone in the James River. The toxic chemical, used in ant and roach pesticides, is detectable in the James River to this day. Fishing on the river was partially banned until 1988. Allied paid Virginia $5 million, and paid an additional $8 million to establish a state conservation fund.

Oct. 13, 1988: While snowmobiling along the icebound coast near Barrow, Alaska, a videographer finds three gray whales trapped in a small pool of open water surrounded by shore ice. His pictures ignite a frenzied, global rescue effort (at right). It is believed that at least 100 gray whales may get trapped this way each year — but not within camera range.

Photo: NOAA/Wikimedia Commons

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