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Exposure to radiation is a part of everyday life. Just going outside exposes you to low levels of ionizing radiation from the sun and you can't even eat some foods without 'exposure' to radiation (albeit in tiny quantities).
But you should probably thank your lucky stars that you don't leave anywhere near these 13 of the most radioactive places on the planet.
The following list is in no particular order and is not exhaustive.
1. Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant, Japan
When a 9.91 magnitude earthquake caused a tsunami in 2011 it overwhelmed the existing safety features of the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant and caused the worst nuclear power plant disaster since Chernobyl.
Although the plant did survive the initial earthquake, the resulting tsunami was more than twice maximum tolerance of the plant's design. This event caused the plant's seawater pumps, designed to keep the reactors cool during the shutdown, failed.
This led to plant's three reactors leaking radioactive material as well as spillovers of the plant's contaminated wastewater - all escaping into the Pacific Ocean.
The nuclear plant was completely shut down, but massive amounts of radioactive waste still spilled into the environment. It is estimated that it will take four decades to decommission the power plant completely.
2. Chernobyl, Pripyat, Ukraine
In April of 1986 one of the worst, and most famous, catastrophic nuclear power plant accidents shocked the world. The event occurred during a late-night safety test at the plant that was meant to simulate a station blackout power-failure.
This led to the actual deactivation of the plant's real safety systems leading to a massive steam explosion and open-air graphite fire. The fire sent plumes of fission products high into the atmosphere creating dangerous fallout across the USSR and parts of Europe.
It is estimated that over a million people were exposed to radiation with a further estimate 4 to 93 thousand deaths as a result. Today the site immediately surrounding the former plant is one of the most radioactive places in the world.
3. The Polygon, Semiplataninsk, Kazakhstan
You might not have heard of this one but it is one of the most radioactive places in the world. The Polygon was used by the Soviet Union as one of their main nuclear weapon testing sites during the Cold War.
It has been estimated that around 450 nuclear tests occurred here between 1949 and 1989. The full impact of radiation exposure to nearby residents was hidden for many years by Soviet authorities and has only come to light since the test site closed in 1991.
The Polygon has since become on the best researched atomic testing sites in the world.
4. The Hanford Site, Washington, USA
The Hanford Site in Washington, USA is another of the worlds most radioactive places in the world. During the Cold War it as the United States' main Plutonium production facility for their nuclear weapon arsenal.
Plutonium for around 60,000 of nuclear weapons was produced here including that used in the "Fat Man" bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki in 1945. Although decommissioned, it still holds two-thirds of the volume of the country’s high-level radioactive waste.
The vast majority of the production waste has been buried underground but large areas of groundwater have since become contaminated.
5. The Siberian Chemical Combine, Seversk, Russia
The Siberian Chemical Combine is a nuclear production facility in Seversk, Russia. It was one of the production facilities for fissile weapon-grade nuclear products fo the Soviet Nuclear weapon program.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the facility stopped production of Plutonium and highly enriched Uranium and is today a major site for the storage and handling of weapons-grade nuclear materials.
Today, the facility supplies Russia's low enriched uranium fuel needs and enriches reprocessed uranium for foreign customers. It is also one of the largest sites for the storage of low and intermediate level nuclear wastes stored via deep-well injection.
6. Zapadnyi Mining and Chemical Combine, Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan
Mailuu-Suu in Kyrgyzstan, unlike other sites on this list, was neither a nuclear testing facility, production facility or power station but rather a rich Uranium source.
Throughout the Cold War, a large mining operation was set up by the Soviet Union and large amounts of Uranium ore was excavated from the area. Heavily contaminated waste mining products were buried around the excavated areas, but significant amounts were left above ground.
he region is also prone to seismic activity, and any disruption of the containment could expose the material or cause some of the waste to fall into rivers, contaminating water used by hundreds of thousands of people.
7. The Somalian Coast, Somalia
It is rumored that the Italian criminal organization the 'Ndrangheta, has been using the unprotected soils and waters off the Somalian coast for illegal dumping and nuclear waste and other toxic materials for years.
It is thought there are no less than 600 barrels of toxic and nuclear waste as well as nuclear hospital waste just waiting to be a future environmental disaster in the not too distant future.
The United Nations’ Environment Program believes that the rusting barrels of waste washed up on the Somalian coastline during the 2004 Tsunami were dumped as far back as the 1990s.
8. Instituto Goiano de Radioterapia, Goias, Brazil
The Instituto Goiano de Radioterapia was the site of a botched robbery at the then abandoned hospital. This led to the release of large amounts of radioactive pollution from radiotherapy sources that were left on site.
The incident occurred in September of 1987.
Four confirmed deaths resulted in a further couple of hundred people found to have received significant radioactive exposure to contamination.
Time magazine has identified the accident as one of the world's "worst nuclear disasters" and the International Atomic Energy Agency called it "one of the world's worst radiological incidents".
9. Sellafield, United Kingdom
Sellafield used to produce weapons-grade nuclear material for the UK's nuclear weapon program during the Cold War. Today it is used as a nuclear fuel reprocessing and decommissioning site and is located close to the small village of Seascale on the coast of the Irish Sea.
Sellafield was the world's first commercial nuclear power station to be used for electrical generation but this part of the facility has since been decommissioned and is currently being dismantled.
The plant releases some 8 million liters of contaminated waste into the sea on a daily basis, making the Irish Sea the most radioactive sea in the world.
10. Mayak, Russia
The industrial complex in Mayak, Ozyorsk, Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia used to be one of their main nuclear plants for plutonium production. But it was also the site of one of the world's worst nuclear accidents.
In fact, it has been classified as a Level 6 disaster by the International Nuclear Event Scale which officially makes it the third worst nuclear accident ever.
100 tons plus of radioactive waste were released by an explosion releasing large amounts of nuclear material over a large area.
The accident occurred in 1975 and was kept a secret well into the 1980s. Starting in the 1950s, waste from the plant was dumped in the surrounding area and into Lake Karachay.
This has led to contamination of the water supply that thousands rely on daily.
11. BOMARC Site RW-01, The McGuire Air Force Base, Burlington County, New Jersey
BOMARC Site RW-01 is a fenced-off annex to the McGuire Air Force Base. It was identified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as one of the most contaminated bases in 2007.
In June of 1960, a premature explosion occurred in a W40 nuke equipped CIM-10 BOMARC missile tank that contaminated the surrounding area with nuclear material.
A remediation campaign was launched immediately but the base still has some contamination to this day.
12. Church Rock Uranium Mill, Church Rock, New Mexico
The Church Rock Uranium Mill in New Mexico was the site of one of the worst environmental contamination events in history. In 1979 a large spill sent thousands of tons of solid radioactive mill waste and millions of gallons of acidic radioactive tailings solutions into the Puerco River.
The contamination spread over some 130 km downstream reaching as far as Navajo County in Arizona.
Radiation levels reaching several thousand times regular background radiation and the river was still found to be contaminated in 2003.
13. Fort d’Aubervilliers, Paris
During the 1920s and 1930s, Frédéric and Irène Joliot-Curie carried out studies on radioactivity at the Fort d'Aubervilliers. They experimented with salts of Radium 226.
SEE ALSO: HOW MUCH RADIATION ARE YOU EXPOSED TO BY EVERYDAY OBJECTS?
Later on, experiments were also conducted by the French Arm to help support their nuclear tests in Algeria that were later found to have seriously contaminated the fort.
Decontamination efforts began in earnest during the 1990s after 61 barrels of Caesium-137 and Radium-226 were found to still be stored there as well as about 60 cubic meters of contaminated soil.
In 2006 new contaminated areas were also uncovered as well as allegations in the Le Parisien that there were higher than average incidents of cancer in the surrounding area.