This gallery is part of a special news series and National Geographic Society initiative on freshwater. A sign near an abandoned school warns against gathering mushrooms, picking berries, and fishing in the Russian village of Muslyumovo. The community sits on the banks of the Techa River in one of the world’s most contaminated nuclear dumping grounds. This Ural Mountain village is one of two dozen that originally sat downstream of the Mayak nuclear complex, which dumped 2.68 billion cubic feet (76 million cubic meters) of highly radioactive waste into the river from 1949 to 1956. The Mayak facility remains operational and though waste disposal has been modernized, most downstream towns—except Muslyumovo, 18 miles (30 kilometers) away—have long since been evacuated. (See pictures from the recent toxic waste spill in Hungary's Marcal River and learn more about other extreme water pollution, flooding, and drought events in 2010.) --Brian Handwerk

Toxic Waste Warning

This gallery is part of a special news series and National Geographic Society initiative on freshwater. A sign near an abandoned school warns against gathering mushrooms, picking berries, and fishing in the Russian village of Muslyumovo. The community sits on the banks of the Techa River in one of the world’s most contaminated nuclear dumping grounds. This Ural Mountain village is one of two dozen that originally sat downstream of the Mayak nuclear complex, which dumped 2.68 billion cubic feet (76 million cubic meters) of highly radioactive waste into the river from 1949 to 1956. The Mayak facility remains operational and though waste disposal has been modernized, most downstream towns—except Muslyumovo, 18 miles (30 kilometers) away—have long since been evacuated. (See pictures from the recent toxic waste spill in Hungary's Marcal River and learn more about other extreme water pollution, flooding, and drought events in 2010.) --Brian Handwerk
Photograph by Denis Sinyakov, Reuters

PHOTOS: Russia's Radioactive River

Russian nuclear facilities accidentally—and intentionally—filled the Techa River with radioactive waste and turned the region into one of the world's worst toxic dumping grounds. Decades later the people along its banks are still paying the price.

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