The Most Toxic Place in the United States

The title for most toxic location in the United States goes to a remote, and perhaps surprising location.
February 25, 2018, 7am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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National Park Service, Alaska Region

According to the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), Kotzebue, Alaska, a city of 3,500 residents located 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle takes that dubious honor.

Justin Nobel reports: "The Alaskan town released an astonishing 756 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the environment—that’s more than the famous factory town of Gary, Indiana, the notorious mining town of Battle Mountain, Nevada, and Luling, Louisiana, located along a stretch of the Mississippi River dominated by petrochemical plants and nicknamed Cancer Alley."

Red Dog Mine, which is one of the world’s largest zinc and lead mines and located 82 miles north of Kotzebue, emits all those toxins—lead, cadmium, and mercury. "The Red Dog Mine opened in 1989 and is operated by Teck, a British Columbia-based metals and mining company. The mine is located on land owned by NANA, an Alaska Native Corporation of the Iñupiat people," adds Nobel.

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Published on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 in National Geographic
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