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Most Expensive Disasters Of All Time

February 19th, 2009 Posted in Oddities

OLYMPIC (LOC)

# 11. Titanic – $150 Million
On April 15, 1912, the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage and was considered to be the most luxurious ocean liner ever built. Over 1,500 people lost their lives when the ship ran into an iceberg and sunk in frigid waters. The ship cost $7 million to build ($150 million in today’s money)

# 10. Tanker Truck vs Bridge – $358 Million
On August 26, 2004, a car collided with a tanker truck containing 32,000 liters of fuel on the Wiehltal Bridge in Germany . The tanker crashed through the guardrail and fell 90 feet off the A4 Autobahn resulting in a huge explosion and fire which destroyed the load-bearing ability of the bridge. Temporary repairs cost $40 million and the cost to replace the bridge is estimated at $318 Million.

# 9. MetroLink Crash – $500 Million
On September 12, 2008, in what was one of the worst train crashes in California history, 25 people were killed when a Metrolink commuter train crashed head-on into a Union Pacific freight train in Los Angeles . It is thought that the Metrolink train may have run through a red signal while the conductor was busy text messaging.. Wrongful death lawsuits are expected to cause $500 million in losses for Metrolink.

# 8. B-2 Bomber Crash – $1.4 Billion
Here we have our first billion dollar accident (and we ‘ re only #7 on the list). This B-2 stealth bomber crashed shortly after taking off from an air base in Guam on February 23, 2008. Investigators blamed distorted data in the flight control computers caused by moisture in the system. This resulted in the aircraft making a sudden nose-up move which made the B-2 stall and crash. This was 1 of only 21 ever built and was the most expensive aviation accident in history. Both pilots were able to eject to safety.

# 7. Exxon Valdez – $2.5 Billion
The Exxon Valdez oil spill was not a large one in relation to the world ‘ s biggest oil spills, but it was a costly one due to the remote location of Prince William Sound (accessible only by helicopter and boat). On March 24, 1989, 10.8 million gallons of oil was spilled when the ship ‘ s master, Joseph Hazelwood, left the controls and the ship crashed into a Reef. The cleanup cost Exxon $2.5 billion.

# 6. Piper Alpha Oil Rig – $3.4 Billion
On July 6, 1988, as part of routine maintenance, technicians removed and checked safety valves which were essential in preventing dangerous build-up of liquid gas. There were 100 identical safety valves which were checked. Unfortunately, the technicians made a mistake and forgot to replace one of them. At 10 PM that same night, a technician pressed a start button for the liquid gas pumps and the world ‘ s most expensive oil rig accident was set in motion. Within 2 hours, the 300 foot platform was engulfed in flames. It eventually collapsed, killing 167 workers and resulting in $3.4 Billion in damages.

# 5. Challenger Explosion – $5.5 Billion
The Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed 73 seconds after takeoff due on January 28, 1986 due to a faulty O-ring.  The cost of replacing the Space Shuttle was $2 billion in 1986 ($4.5 billion in today ‘ s dollars). The cost of investigation, problem correction, and replacement of lost equipment cost $450 million from 1986-1987 ($1 Billion in today ‘ s dollars).

# 4. Prestige Oil Spill – $12 Billion
On November 13, 2002, the Prestige oil tanker was carrying 77,000 tons of heavy fuel oil when one of its twelve tanks burst during a storm off Galicia , Spain . Fearing that the ship would sink, the captain called for help from Spanish rescue workers, expecting them to take the ship into harbour. However, pressure from local authorities forced the captain to steer the ship away from the coast. The captain tried to get help from the French and Portuguese authorities, but they too ordered the ship away from their shores. The storm eventually took its toll on the ship resulting in the tanker splitting in half and releasing 20 million gallons oil into the sea. According to a report by the Pontevedra Economist Board, the total cleanup cost $12 billion.

# 3. Space Shuttle Columbia – $13 Billion
The Space Shuttle Columbia was the first space worthy shuttle in NASA ‘ s orbital fleet. It was destroyed during re-entry over Texas on February 1, 2003 after a hole was punctured in one of the wings during launch 16 days earlier. The original cost of the shuttle was $2 Billion in 1978. That comes out to $6.3 Billion in today ‘ s dollars. $500 million was spent on the investigation, making it the costliest aircraft accident investigation in history. The search and recovery of debris cost $300 million. In the end, the total cost of the accident (not including replacement of the shuttle) came out to $13 Billion according to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics..

# 2. Chernobyl – $200 Billion
On April 26, 1986, the world witnessed the costliest accident in history. The Chernobyl disaster has been called the biggest socio-economic catastrophe in peacetime history. 50% of the area of Ukraine is in some way contaminated. Over 200,000 people had to be evacuated and resettled while 1.7 million people were directly affected by the disaster. The death toll attributed to Chernobyl , including people who died from cancer years later, is estimated at 125,000. The total costs including cleanup, resettlement, and compensation to victims has been estimated to be roughly $200 Billion. The cost of a new steel shelter for the Chernobyl nuclear plant will cost $2 billion alone. The accident was officially attributed to power plant operators who violated plant procedures and were ignorant of the safety requirements needed.

# 1. 2008 US Presidential Election- $800 Billion in the first month alone… and still counting.

sockeye

h/t

Creative Commons License photo credit: The Library of Congress

3 Responses to “Most Expensive Disasters Of All Time”

  1. Marty Says:

    After reading this, I realized that the compiler (researcher) missed one that would have supplanted the Titanic. The 1980 collapse of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay, Florida cost at least $244 million because that is the cost of the replacement bridge. That doesn’t count the cost of the demolition of the old bridge and that is not translated in today’s dollars.

    I also question the Wiehltal Bridge in Germany being #10. I don’t understand that it will cost $318 million to replace basically an overpass over the Autobahn. Someone is gouging their government there. Consider the Skyway, which is over a mile long suspension bridge over salt water and this bridge cost considerably less than the Wiehltal Bridge? C’mon!


  2. meta Says:

    I recieved this as an email. Marty, it is a joke. These are not the most expensive disasters of all time. It is a political joke. They have left out the fact that Hurrican Katrina cost over 81 billion dollars and several other disasters. It is a joke aimed at the Democratic party and our current president. Think about it, who was president when the 800 billion dollar, no accountability bailout occured?


  3. mls nc listing girl Says:

    “In Louisiana, BP claims that it’s making progress with the leaking oil in the Gulf. They’re working on a plan to heat the Gulf up to 600 degrees and use it to fry chicken.” –Jimmy Kimmel


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