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As recent headlines suggest, there are a number of areas where we've come to expect a level of security that appears to be lacking. From guarding nuclear missiles, to finding chemicals in our drinking water, life in these critical spaces can still be messy. Let's take a look at some notable cases.
Navigating an Airplane
Southwest Airlines grounded two pilots this week after they landed at the wrong airport near Branson, Mo. It's not yet clear how the plane ended up 8 miles away from the correct location.
Was this the airline version of plugging an address into your GPS and turning into a lake?
Veteran commercial pilot Tom Kreamer suggested not in an interview with NBC News.
Kreamer wondered why the pilots didn't appear to be using electronic landing guidance: "It’s fine to do visual approaches and visual landings, but use the electronic guidance as a backup."
Despite a "fail-safe" retaining wall around a 35,000-gallon tank, a coal-processing chemical leaked into the Elk River near Charleston, W. Va., making the water in nine counties last week unsafe for anything but toilet use.
Ten people were hospitalized with symptoms of chemical exposure from the drinking water supply.
The retaining wall was due for a $1 million dollar repair. The incident, environmental experts say, points to a lack of regulation at the state and local levels.
Alarming medical news is surprisingly common. Some of the most troubling stories involve surgical tools remaining with patients after they leave the operating room.
In the U.K., a nurse had a pair of 7-inch forceps left inside her. Last year, surgical padding was left in a U.K. woman and two towels were left inside an Ohio man. In Germany, a man had 16 surgical tools left inside him during an operation for prostate cancer.
Medical mistakes are the third leading cause of deaths in the United States, after heart disease and cancer, according to a study in the Journal of Patient Safety. Somewhere between 210,000 and 440,000 patients are estimated to die because of preventable mistakes.
In late December, four people were killed when a commuter train in the Bronx, New York, jumped the tracks while it was traveling nearly three times its normal speed. The previous July, 79 people were killed when a train derailed in Spain. Again, excessive speed was thought to play a role in the accident.
Also in late December, near Fargo, N.D., 2,400 residents were evacuated when a train carrying crude oil derailed causing 10 train cars to catch on fire. In July 2013, another train carrying crude oil derailed, exploding and killing 47 people in Lac-Megantic, a small town in Quebec.
Last week, two Air Force officers with the authority to launch nuclear missiles were stripped of their security clearances while being investigated for involvement in illegal drugs. The officers are based at Montana's Malmstrom Air Force Base, reports The Associated Press.
There were a number of lapses in silo security in 2013. In October, the AP reported that missile doors were left open while an Air Force nuclear officer was asleep. The Air Force requires that the blast door is shut when one crew member is sleeping during a 24-hour shift.
The previous May, a maintenance crew was allowed into an underground control center at Malmstrom Air Force Base, also a violation of Air Force rules. And In August 2013, failed safety and security checks led to the decertification of 17 military members, who were later retrained and sent back to work.