The BLACKSMITH INSITUTE of New York City has released its list of the 10 most polluted places on earth. Information about each site includes the number of people affected, the type of pollutants, a description of the site, an account of the cleanup activity and links to further information.
As voted by the Blacksmith Technical Advisory Board, these are the losers:
– Chernobyl, Ukraine, site of the world’s worst nuclear reactor meltdown, in 1986.
– Dzerzinsk, Russia, a former chemical weapons manufacturing facility.
– Haina, Dominican Republic, contaminated with lead from a closed battery recycling plant.
– Kabwe, Zambia, where unregulated mining and smelting during most of the 20th Century left behind a toxic legacy of lead and cadmium.
– La Oroya, Peru, site of a polymetallic mine and smelter owned by Doe Run Corp.
– Linfen, China, in the heart of the country’s largest coal mining region.
– Maiuu Suu, Kyrgyzstan, home of 23 uranium tailings areas and 13 waste rock dumps.
– Norilsk, Russia, closed to foreign visitors and home of the world’s largest nickel producer.
– Ranipet, India, where runoff from a chemical manufacturer has polluted groundwater and soil.
– Rudnaya Pristan and Dalnegorsk, Russia, with lead contamination thanks to an old smelter and the unsafe transportation of lead concentrates.
The board made its selection from a list of about three dozen sites, thankfully none of which were in Canada. The fact that six of the worst 10 places are the sites of current or former mining activity goes a long way toward explaining why the public perception of mining is of a dirty, rapacious industry.
Founded in 1999, the Blacksmith Insitute works co-operatively to develop and implement solutions for pollution-related problems in the developing world. Donations are welcome at www.BlacksmithInstitute.org.