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Gripping video shows most lethal object in the world, would prove fatal in five minutes

Four minutes of exposure can induce vomiting and fever, five minutes can kill a person.

Gripping video shows most lethal object in the world, would prove fatal in five minutes
CHERNOBYL, UKRAINE - JUNE, 2006: Elk footprint, June 1, 2006 in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, Ukraine. (Photo by Patrick Landmann/Getty Images)

The ghost town of Chernobyl is situated about 160 kilometers southwest of Gomel, Belarus. Following the catastrophic 1986 disaster, the town was completely evacuated. Eight months later, courageous workers entered the site to collect samples. They discovered a horrifying object that remains infamous as the “most dangerous waste object in the world.” Just five minutes near it can be fatal.

Image Source: Chernobyl nuclear power plant a few weeks after the disaster. Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR, May 1986. (Photo by Igor Kostin/Laski Diffusion/Getty Images)
Image Source: Chernobyl nuclear power plant a few weeks after the disaster. Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR, May 1986. (Photo by Igor Kostin/Laski Diffusion/Getty Images)

The massive, black lava-like blob is called the “Elephant’s Foot” due to its resemblance to the same. This highly dangerous waste is primarily composed of corium. Sandia National Laboratories states that corium can release significant radioactive material into the environment as it spreads.

Mitchell T. Farmer, a veteran nuclear engineer and program manager at the Argonne National Laboratory, explained to HowStuffWorks that corium looks “a lot like lava, a blackish-oxide material that gets very viscous as it cools down, flowing like sticky molten glass.” Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety for the Union of Concerned Scientists, added, “Corium retains highly radioactive fission products, plutonium, and core materials that have become radioactive, corium will have a high dose rate and remain extremely hazardous many decades or even centuries to come.”

Image Source: In this aerial view abandoned, partially-completed cooling towers stand at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Image Source: In this aerial view abandoned, partially-completed cooling towers stand at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

In addition to corium, the “Elephant’s Foot” consists of melted concrete, sand, core shielding, and nuclear fuel. It was first discovered by Artur Korneyev, who was one of the workers who entered the Number 4 reactor into the heart of the cataclysmic site.

Artur was the deputy director of the New Safe Confinement Project. His goal was to collect some samples from the Chernobyl site. So, he approached and saw something eerie. It appeared to be a solidified globule of black, flaming hot lava. Artur photographed the giant mass using an automatic camera. This footage recently resurfaced across social media. It displays a group of researchers in Hazmat suits approaching the “Elephant's Foot.” A YouTube video sharing this footage has received 2.6 million views.



 

In 1986, the radiation levels of the "Elephant's Foot" were measured at 10,000 roentgen per hour. For context, 50 to 100 roentgen can cause radiation sickness. Although its radiation has decreased, it remains extremely dangerous. According to Nautil, 500 seconds near it can cause mild radiation sickness, and just over an hour of exposure can be fatal.



 

Plus, four minutes of exposure can induce vomiting, diarrhea, and fever, and five minutes (300 seconds) near it might kill a person within two days. It is believed to remain hazardous for thousands of coming years. Artur, for example, still suffered from cataracts and other illnesses following his exposure to the “Elephant’s Foot” after a decade, according to All That’s Interesting.



 

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