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Virtual Earth map of Lake Karachai

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The Most Polluted Spot on Earth - standing on the banks of this lake for 1 hour will kill you.

According to a Worldwatch Institute report on nuclear waste, the "most polluted spot" on earth is Lake Karachai in the South Ural mountains.

Until the 1960s, Lake Karachai was used as a repository for high-level radioactive wastes from the nearby Mayak nuclear plant. The plant, also known as Chelyabinsk-40, is one of three Russian nuclear reprocessing facilities, which together have discharged approximately 1.7 billion curies of radioactive waste into rivers, lakes, and the ground.

It is estimated that the 50-acre lake contains 120 million curies of radioactivity, which is comparable to the total amount released at Chernobyl. Another point of comparison offered by a 1995 U.S. Department of Energy report is that the total amount of radioactive discharges from the Russian Navy's fleets adds up to only half of one percent of the radioactivity in Lake Karachai.

The same report explains that, in October 1991, DOE officials observed a dose rate of 300 to 600 millirems per hour near the shores of the lake, which is three to six times the exposure permitted per year by U.S. regulations.



 

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