The Seveso Disaster Facts

The Seveso Disaster Facts
The Seveso disaster was an industrial accident that took place on July 10th, 1976, 20km north of Milan in Meda, in Italy at a chemical manufacturing facility. The accident resulted in exposing residents of the area to the highest amount of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin on record. It was named the Seveso disaster because the population of Seveso, at roughly 17,000, was the most affected of all the towns in the area. Other communities included Desio, Meda, Cesano Maderno, Barlassina, and Bovisio-Masciago. 3,300 animals in the area died within days. 80,000 animals had to be slaughtered to keep them from the food chain. Some people, including children, suffered from a skin condition called chloracne. Further health issues to those exposed included liver issues and peripheral neuropathy, increased mortality from respiratory diseases, and other serious consequences.
Interesting The Seveso Disaster Facts:
By 1977 the restoration and decontamination efforts had been completed.
By 1978 the majority of compensation claims by individuals had been completed.
The waste from the Seveso disaster was placed into waste drums suitable for nuclear waste.
30 years after the Seveso disaster the number of babies born with thyroid problems in the area previously exposed to the dioxin is six times higher than normal.
Nobody exposed to the dioxin died but the health problems are still being debated.
When the dioxin leak occurred the 3,000kg chemical cloud reached as high as 50 meters in the air. The wind carried the dioxin to nearby communities.
It is believed that roughly 37,000 people were exposed to the dioxin. Children began to show burn-like lesions on their skin only hours after the incident but because the company did not report it people did not know what was happening.
The company responsible for the Seveso disaster - ICMESA - did not admit to the leak of dioxin for a week following the incident. It also took another week before evacuation to begin.
Former employees of ICMESA were sentenced to prison for periods ranging from 2.5 to 5 years in 1983.
Following appeals only two ICMESA employees were found guilty by the Supreme Court in Rome.
In 1982 the European Community passed new industrial safety regulations and named it the Seveso Directive. The regulations were updated in 1996 and in 2008 and are now referred to as the Seveso II Directive.
Following the incident the area affected was divided into zones. The area known as Zone A, consisting of 110 hectares, is now a public park called Seveso Oak Forest. Zones were based on the level of contamination.
One notable change in births following the Seveso disaster was the increase in baby girls in relation to baby boys. For 7 years after the incident 46 baby girls were born and only 28 male babies were born. The number was almost always equal prior to the incident.
Because of the thyroid issue increase and change in birth ratios dioxin has been suggested as a possible hormone disrupter.
Those exposed to the dioxin are thought to be more susceptible to some rare cancers.

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