Mega Disasters

Season 1 Episode 10

Firestorm

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Aired Tuesday 9:00 PM Aug 01, 2006 on The History Channel
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Firestorm
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On the morning of December 6, 1917, the French steamer Mont Blanc, loaded with 2,300 tons of picric acid and 200 tons of TNT, was making its way through the narrows of the harbor of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Suddenly, it collided with the Norwegian ship Imo. As oily flames shot into the sky and the crews scrambled into lifeboats, women and children came to their windows to watch, mesmerized by the flames. The empty Mont Blanc burned for 20 minutes, then -- without warning -- exploded. The blast is the biggest non-nuclear manmade explosion ever: 1600 homes destroyed, 6,000 people left homeless, 200 people blinded and over 2000 killed. Now we face the potential of an eerily similar disaster in Boston Harbor. Once each week, a gigantic tanker carrying LNG - liquefied natural gas - makes its way through the harbor, passing within 1200 feet of a densely populated waterfront. Experts fear that a collision or a terrorist attack could puncture one of the ship's tanks, releasing millions of gallons of LNG into the water. If a spark were to ignite that pool of gas, the result would be a massive fire and a devastating chain reaction of explosions that could destroy Boston's historic North End and the financial district, killing tens of thousands. Such an event in Boston Harbor could be one of the worst disasters ever on U.S. soil.moreless
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