4. Mayak, Russia
In 1957, a massive tub of radioactive waste left from reprocessing nuclear fuel exploded at a secret nuclear reprocessing site called Mayak. Coined as the Kyshtym Disaster, it was one of the worst nuclear accidents in the world but was kept secret by the government for decades. The grim results of the nuclear explosion caused a radioactive cloud that contaminated over 300 square miles of land; millions of people were exposed to high levels of radiation.
Most people in neighboring parts of Siberia suffered from acute radiation syndrome, hundreds of people died every week and yet, the rest of the world didn’t know about it. Because of the Kyshtym Disaster, Mayak, Russia is still one of the most radioactive places in the world. The accident was so bad; the Mayak nuclear facility was recently deleted from all Russian maps, despite being a major source of plutonium for nuclear weapons and nuclear reactor fuel in Russia for over 50 years.
To this day, the horrific details about the Mayak nuclear explosion are shrouded in mystery. Questions are still left unanswered but experts believe that at least 200 people died of excess cancers in Kyshtym in the Ural Mountains of Siberia. Hundreds of villages and towns were abandoned because of severe radioactive contamination. Before Chenobyl, Kyshtym Disaster was the worst nuclear disaster in human history.