Basement Geographer on a lake in the Russian mountains which may be the single most concentrated spot of environmental desecration:
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.
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. 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.
Statistics reveal that by the 1990s, there had been a 21% increase in the incidences of cancer, a 25% increase in birth defects, a 41% increase in leukaemia, and a rendering of 50% of the population of child bearing age sterile in the Mayak region. Of the 40 villages on the river downstream from Mayak, 24 relied upon it for water; 23 of those villages had to be evacuated. One village, Metlino, was found to have 65% of residents suffering from chronic radiation sickness, and workers at the plutonium plant reported the same.