What's The Most Radioactive Place On Earth?

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Jonathan O`Callaghan 25 Mar 2018, 20:21

Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan

This mining town in southern Kyrgyzstan is still dealing with the consequences of the Soviet Union’s nuclear program. It was used to mine and process uranium ore from 1946 to 1967, but today remains very dangerous.

Much of the waste from the mining was buried along the river that runs through the town. A report back in 2010 said it was in urgent need of cleaning up, while high cancer rates and poor immune systems have been reported among young people there.

About 20,000 people still live here today. The dumps, known as tailing dumps, continue to threaten to contaminate drinking water. Radiation levels have been found to be beyond safe limits, but while some families have been relocated, others remain.

Sellafield, UK

Found on the western tip of the UK, Sellafield is a nuclear decommissioning site where you’ll find high levels of radiation. This is where most of the radioactive waste from the UK’s 15 operational nuclear reactors are stored, while it also reprocesses nuclear fuel from overseas.

The waste produces radiation levels of up to 280 sieverts per hour, which is 60 times the dose that is fatal. Dissolved fuel rods are stored in a giant storage pool underground, called the Head End Shear Cave. Only robots are sent into the cave.

The site is safe enough to work there, but as nuclear fuel continues to be stored in the cave, it is probably not the best place to visit.

The Sellafield site in Cumbria, northwest England. Steve Allen/Shutterstock

Hanford, US

The Hanford Site, which is a decommissioned nuclear production complex, is commonly said to be the most radioactive place in the US. It was once used to produce plutonium for the Manhattan Project, and today it still stores 65 percent of the country’s radioactive waste.

In May 2017, a tunnel collapse at the plant caused major concerns, with workers told to evacuate. Huge amounts of soil were reused to block up the tunnel. There have also been environmental concerns with the surrounding environment.

Just recently, in February 2018, some vehicles used on the site were found to contain Americium-241 in their air filters. Contamination has also been found up to 16 kilometers (10 miles) away from the site.

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