What Is The Scariest Object In The World?

What’s the scariest thing in the world? Some people might say actor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s smile or singer Justin Bieber’s voice. Fun aside, let’s be serious!
There are lots of things on this planet to freak you out. The awesome power of nature can be terrifying. Think of volcanoes erupting, the destructive force of a tsunami wall of water, the unstoppable power of a tornado tearing through urban areas to name but a few. Natural disasters are an unavoidable part of life on Earth. But the single scariest thing isn’t something caused by nature. This Hell on Earth was man made and it’s called the Elephant’s Foot.

What is the Elephant’s Foot?

This is a solid mass of deadly waste located in the basement of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, in present day Ukraine, that exploded in 1986. Radioactive lava poured from the core of the nuclear reactor and melted through the core settling in the depths of the reactor ruins. Several metres long and weighing hundreds of tons, the “foot” is a mixture of nuclear fuel, concrete and core sealing material that the fuel melted through. Every year, it releases about 22 pounds of uranium – the radioactive metal considered to be the most toxic environmental pollutant. It was called the Elephant’s Foot because of its wrinkled appearance.

Why is the Elephant’s Foot so Dangerous?

The Elephant’s Foot is thought to be the most dangerous piece of waste in the world. It was discovered months after history’s most catastrophic nuclear accident. Researchers, who made it into a steam chamber beneath Reactor No. 4, found that black lava had belched from the core and formed into a solid flow. Their sensors warned them that the radioactive magna was too dangerous to approach, so from a safe distance they rigged up a wheeled remote camera and pushed it towards the Elephant’s Foot to examine it. According to readings taken at the time, exposure to the still-hot molten mass could cause certain death is minutes. The radiation level was measured at 10,000 roentgens per hour. It takes about 1/10th of that to kill a person. This meant that:
  • * After 30 seconds of exposure, you would suffer dizziness and fatigue within a week.
  • * After two minutes of exposure, your cells would begin to hemorrhage.
  • * After four minutes, you would suffer vomiting, diarrhea and fever.
  • * And after five minutes in its presence, you would only have two days to live.
  • * An hour would expose you to radiation of the equivalent of over 500,000 chest x-rays.

What Caused the Elephant’s Foot?

In the early hours of April 26, 1986 workers running a test on Reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl plant, in what was then the Soviet Union, lowered very hot nuclear fuel rods into cooling water. This created a huge amount of steam and the reaction accelerated causing a power surge that blasted off the 1,000-ton containment lid covering the reactor core. This released massive quantities of cancer-causing radioactive particles into the atmosphere. Air rushed in and seconds later, a second more powerful explosion ripped the reactor building apart. Huge masses of melted nuclear fuel formed – the most famous being the Elephant’s Foot.


Radioactive particles released by the blasts were about 400 times that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in World War Two. The worst affected area was Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. The nearby town of Pripyat was evacuated and residents were re-located to Slavutych, a city built to replace Pripyat. The first the world heard about the disaster was when workers at a Swedish nuclear facility detected high levels of radiation. Radioactive materials travelled across Europe. Sheep in northern England and reindeer in Lapland were irradiated and had to be killed.
Immediately after the blasts, 600,000 workers were scrambled to the site to contain the escaping radiation. The people of Europe owe their lives to these brave heroes who risked their lives to stop the fires from spreading to Reactors 1, 2 and 3. Dozens died within months following the explosion and thousands received a massive dose of radiation putting them at heightened risk of getting cancer. In 1986, a huge concrete sarcophagus was built around the Elephant’s Foot to prevent radiation. Although enough concrete to fill a third of the Empire State Building was used, the tomb was not completely closed, but had access points left open so researchers could observe the “foot” and workers could enter. It’s said that the people who built the sarcophagus died around a year or so later.
A 30-kilometre radius around the former plant is still radioactive and is called the “Zone of Alienation”. It can only be entered through a checkpoint.

The Elephant’s Foot Today

Ten years after the disaster, the Elephant’s Foot was only emitting a tenth of its original radiation, however, just over an hour of exposure would still prove fatal. Nearly 30 years after the meltdown, the Elephant’s Foot has weakened, but it is still dangerous because the sarcophagus’ concrete is deteriorating and threatens to contaminate groundwater. Plans are under way to prevent this.
The unique nuclear waste that is the Elephant’s Foot is virtually indestructible. Ukrainian officials estimate the area will not be safe for human life again for another 20,000 years.

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