Lake Karachay, Russia
Karachay, translated from the local tongue, means Black Water. Lake Karachay is considered the most polluted place on Earth. This once beautiful lake is located in central Russia, close to one of the country’s largest nuclear facilities, the Mayak Production Association.
Since 1951, the Soviets used the lake as a dumping ground for radioactive waste from Mayak. The lake isn’t large, but it is now deadly due to years of heavy radioactive dumping. In the 1990s, researchers ruled that standing on the shores of the lake for just one hour would deliver enough radiation to kill a human being.
From a radiological perspective, the lake was ruled the most polluted place on the planet and, for the last 45 years, has been completely off-limits to the public. Karachay and the neighbouring areas are also desolate, nearly completely uninhabited by any wildlife of any kind. The toxic lake ruined the surrounding locations, air, and water, but as well the health of the people who used to live in the area. Cancer cases increased by 21%, birth defects by 25% and leukemia by 41% (source: business insider).