While these places probably aren’t at the top of any list for “great escapes”, these radioactive sites are still worth noting. French Scientist Henri Becquerel first discovered radioactivity in 1896 although the dangers of it weren’t discovered immediately. With that said, here are the 9 most radioactive sites in the world. Some even look inviting, until you find out they’re completely contaminated.
Regarded as one of the worst nuclear disasters since Chernobyl, the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant meltdown occurred after being hit by a tsunami that was triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake. Three of the plant’s six reactors melted down, and much of the radiation leaked into the surrounding sea. Radioactive material linked to the disaster was found over 200 miles away from the plant.
This is the place most people think of when they hear the phrase “nuclear disaster.” The radiation released from the accident at the plant was over 100 times more than that of both bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Over 6 million people were exposed to the radiation, and the death toll from the incident ranges from 4,000 to 93,000.
The Chernobyl disaster remains the only level 7 incident on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) making it the biggest man-made disaster that has ever happened.
Considered to be one of the top 10 most polluted places om the planet, the radiation at Mailuu-Suu actually comes from comes uranium mining, which is what’s needed to create a nucular bomb. Since closed off, the area now consists of 36 dumps of uranium waste, roughly 1.96 million cubic meters.
What’s bad is that the region is prone to seismic activity, and any disruption could expose the waste, or cause some of it to fall into rivers, contaminating the water used by millions of people in central Asia. It’s already been reported that roughly 300,000 cubic meters of material fell into the Mailuu-Suu River near the uranium mine after an earthquake back in 2005.
The Semipalatinsk Test Site: “The Polygon”, Kazakhstan
This facility holds the record for the largest concentration of nuclear explosions in the world. That’s 456 tests over 40 years from 1949 to 1989 by the Soviet Union. What’s even worse is that the test site is surrounded by 700,000 people. It is estimated that nearly a third of those people have suffered health complications as a result of the radiation.
The full impact of radiation exposure was hidden for many years by Soviet authorities and was really only exposed once the site was shut down back in 1991.
Siberian Chemical Combine, Russia
Despite looking quite beautiful, especially in winter… this place is actually a nuclear hell. With over four decades of radioactive waste (about 125,000 tons) uncovered and much of it easily spreadable by wind and weather. The facility produced plutoniumand, highly enriched uranium (HEU), and fabricated (HEU) along with warhead components.
The last reactor was actually shut down in 2008…. However, this place is still one of the largest sites storing low and intermediate level wastes from reprocessing. With more than 30 million cubic meters stored by deep-well injection.
The Somalian Coast
The Italian mafia is rumored to be using this coast as their dumping grounds, too. The lack of government regulations certainly doesn’t help the people of Somalia. When a tsunami hit the area in 2004, discarded oil barrels dating back from the 1990’s were washing up on the shore.
Europe’s biggest and most hazardous nuclear complex is called Sellafield, located in western England, is a large nuclear reprocessing plant. Back in the 1940’s and 50’s, over 441 pounds of plutonium was dispensed in the Irish Sea, and even to this day, the site leaks 8 million liters of contaminated waste into the sea on a daily basis. Making the Irish Sea one of the most polluted bodies of water in the world.
Before Chernobyl, Mayak was home to the second largest nuclear disastrous the world has ever seen…. and you’ve probably never heard about it. It was also the first plant that could produce nuclear material in the Soviet Union.
When the explosion happened it released over 100 tons of radioactive waste. To make things worse, the disaster was kept a secret by the government until the 1980’s. 200 people were diagnosed with cancer due to the radation… Some people were even exposed to more than twenty times the radiation suffered by the Chernobyl disaster victims.
The Mediterranean Sea
For decades, the Italian Mafia was accused of dumping hazardous waste into the Mediterranean Sea since the 1980’s. The accusations range from Francesco Fonti, a former member of ‘Ndrangheta’, who was paid to get rid of 600 drums of toxic and radioactive waste from Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, and the US.
Over 30 ships carrying loads of radioactive materials have also gone missing since 1994. They’ve also been accused of dumping huge amounts of waste along the Somalia coast.
Hanford Site, United States of America
Located in Washington, and 230 miles east of Portland, the Hanford Site was where plutonium was manufactured for the Cold War. Most of the 56 million tons of radioactive waste was not used, but the production alone did plenty of damage to its surrounding area.
Leaks have contaminated the groundwater below, even though the site was decommissioned… the estimated price tag to clean the entire site is $120 billion, with a deadline of 2047.