Lake Karachay: Most polluted place on earth

Look at the environment and there may be several sources of contamination — streams full of harmful substances from agricultural operations, waterways overflowing with field waste, garbage floating out from landfills, city sky filled in smog. Also, ecosystems that appear to be untouched can suffer the effects of emissions from sources located hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Pollution can create muddy fields, poison wetlands, and rivers, or destroy plants and animals. People are also routinely affected by pollution. Long-term exposure to air pollution, for example, can lead to chronic respiratory disorders, lung cancer, and other diseases. Toxic chemicals that accumulate in the top predators can make certain animals unsafe to eat. More than one billion people do not have access to safe water, and 2.4 billion do not have proper sanitation, placing them at risk of contracting deadly diseases.

Lake Karachay is located in the southern Ural mountains in Central Russia. In approx 1951, the Soviet Union used this site to dump radioactive waste and today it is filled and acts as near-surface permanent and dry nuclear waste storage facility. According to a report by Washington D.C. based on the Worldwatch Institute of Nuclear Waste, it is the most polluted open-air place from a radiological view.

The lake accumulated nearly 4.44 exabecquerels (EBq) of radioactivity is less than one square mile of surface, including 3.6 EBq of cesium-137 and 0.74 EBq of strontium-90. In contrast, the Chernobyl catastrophe emitted 0.085 EBq of Caesium-137, a significantly smaller volume, and over a thousand square miles. (The cumulative release of Chernobyl is estimated to be between 5 and 12 EBq of radioactivity, but ultimately only caesium-134/137 contributes to soil exposure because the remainder is too short-lived). As a result, the lake is biologically 42 times more radioactive than Chernobyl.

As of December 2016, the state of the lake is fully packed with unique concrete blocks, rock and gravel. It was fully refilled in November 2015 and then tracked until the final layer of rock and soil was laid. Monitoring results revealed a “strong decrease in the surface accumulation of radionuclides” after 10 months. A decades-long surveillance system for surface water was planned to be implemented soon afterward.

So here I am concluding this article. Hope you guys enjoyed it!

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