Wonderful lake Karachay is one of the deadliest places on Earth

Imagine a lake so polluted and contaminated that spending just an hour on its shores would result in certain death, and the only way seen fit to deal with it is to fill the entire water body with concrete blocks to keep the toxic soil underneath from moving onshore.


That lake is Lake Karachay in Russia’s Chelyabinsk Oblast, and it is considered by many to be the most polluted place on the planet. The wonderful environment makes Lake Karachay look somewhat innocuous, but this is not the case.


Lake Karachay lies within the Mayak Production Association, one of Russia’s largest and oldest nuclear facilities and a major source of plutonium during the Soviet era. The Chelyabinsk region as a whole has for many decades been one of Russia’s major industrial centres. Built immediately following World War II, Mayak has been the site of numerous nuclear-related accidents throughout its history, some approaching the size of the Chernobyl meltdown but far more concentrated. Karachay, the small, dried-up lake to the south of the nuclear plant, spent a quarter-century receiving Mayak’s waste.


In total, over 500 000 people have been irradiated by the various disasters at Mayak, with the total levels of radiation emitted being higher than those of Chernobyl, while the pollution took on people and vegetation.



The Basement Geographer

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