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Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Envelope, Please VII

The Blacksmith Institute has released a list of the world's ten worst polluted places. Click the link to each city to get a detailed report on the source of pollution. The breakdown: Russia (3), Ukraine (1), Kyrgystan (1), China (1), India (1), Peru (1), Zambia (1). Zero Western nations.

Five of them are legacies of the Soviet Union:

  • Chernobyl Ukraine "Type of pollutants: Uranium, Plutonium, Radioactive Iodine, Cesium-137, Strontium, and other metals." I think you all know the source.
  • Dzerzhinsk, Russia "Type of pollutants: Chemicals and toxic byproducts from Cold War-era chemical weapons manufacturing, including Sarin, VX gas, lewisite - the poisonous effect of which is owed to its arsenic trioxide content, yperite (mustard gas), prussic acid, phosgene, dioxins and other persistent organic chemicals. Lead, from an additives manufacturer, now closed."
  • Maiuu Suu, Kyrgyzstan "Type of pollutants: Radioactive uranium mine tailings. Gamma radiation from the dumps measures in between 100-600 micro-roentgens per hour. Heavy metals, and cyanides." The sources are "twenty-three tailing dumps and thirteen waste rock dumps scattered throughout Mailuu-Suu," products of the uranium mining operations there.
  • Norilsk, Russia "Type of pollutants: Air pollution - particulates including Strontium-90, Caesium-137, Sulfur dioxide, heavy metals (nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, selenium), particulates, nitrogen and carbon oxides, phenols, hydrogen sulfide." Here's portions of the site description: "An industrial city founded in 1935 as a slave labor camp...According to the Mines and Communities website the city is considered one of the most polluted places in Russia - where the snow is black, the air tastes of sulfur and the life expectancy for factory workers is 10 years below the Russian average. This city houses the world's largest heavy metals smelting complex, and over 4 million tons annually of cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, arsenic, selenium and zinc are dispersed into the air. Mining and smelting operation started in the 1930s, and is the worlds largest nickel producer."
  • Rudnaya Pristan and Dalnegorsk, Russia "Type of pollutants: Lead, cadmium, mercury, antimony" The source is a lead smelter, which according to Wikipedia was founded in 1930. The smelter is currently shut down.


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