32. Buffalo Creek Dam

Location: Logan County, West VA

Year of Fail: 1972

Declared “satisfactory” by a federal inspector four days beforehand, an impoundment dam of the Buffalo Creek Coal Company burst in 1972, sending 138 million gallons of black waste water careening down a tight hollow. Residents of the area long feared a dam break and expressed concerns to both the state and national government, neither of which took the necessary steps to fix the dam’s deficiencies. When heavy rains caused the water level to rise quickly, the poorly designed and ill constructed dam inevitably gave way. 125 were killed, 1,000 were injured, 500 homes were destroyed and more than $400 million was reported in damages.

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