“Living Toxic” Karabash
photo by Pierpaolo Mittica(Freelance)


The town of Karabash, in Russia, is one of the most polluted places on Earth. A copper smelting plant, built more than 100 years ago, is situated in the town, and its toxic waste has created extremely large amounts of pollution and serious health problems for the inhabitants.


Waste from the copper smelting plant. The landscape is completely burned by dioxide, and the copper factories keep transforming the area into a living hell.


The revenge of the nature. The orange-red color of the rivers and lakes is due to the continuous pouring of waste from the copper smelting plant


Karabash inhabitants: Tatiana is explaining the impossibility to breathe when the copper smelting plant is operating


Waiting for the bus, Karabash town. Karabash town was a city of about 24 thousands inhabitants. Now has 16 thousands inhabitants, half of the city is abandoned due to the high concentration of dioxide


Waste from the copper smelting plant


the river Sak-Elga, where the smelting copper plant dumps its waste. the river became orange due to the continuous discharge of waste from the plant. The forests, rivers and soil have a orange color because of iron, whose concentration is 500 times higher than normal limits.


Abandoned Cinema, Karabash. The neighborhood that was downwind of the plant was evacuated a few years ago. now lies abandoned and in total decay.


Children playing in the abandoned buildings. Karabash. The results of a survey conducted by the Chelyabinsk Provincial Institute for Public Health and Environment in 1994 found that children from Karabash were considerably smaller than children from the control group, had 3.5 times more birth defects, 2.7 times more skin diseases and suffered from heavy metal poisoning.


Coming back from her work shift at copper smelting plant. The copper smelting plant was closed in 1990 when was declared by the authorities an “ecological disaster”. But all the city jobs depend from the plant, all the population was without job and fall in poverty. So in 1998 the government was forced to reopen the facility under the pressure of the population that required work. The plant was reopened without any safety or environmental assessments.

The revenge of Nature. An enormous black mountain, 15 meters high and 2 km long, called black slag, surrounds the city of Karabash. It is made by industrial waste, heavy metal particles, very dangerous particles for the health of the population.

This part of the forest is completely burned by chemical poisoning substance


The red lakes and mountains burned by dioxide


From the 1910 when the copper smelting plant started, more than 180 tons of sulfur dioxide and metal particulates were released into the air every year.


Slag mountain, the revenge of nature