Humans can make quite a mess of nature. Evidence of this can be found in the Superfund program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which targets and cleans up toxic sites. This program caught wind of something disturbing that was going on in Bullitt County, Kentucky, back in 1983. That's when they set their sights on a place called the Valley of the Drums.
Starting in the 1960s, this open area became a dumping ground for highly toxic chemical waste.
The site first caught the attention of public officials after a fire burned there for more than a week back in 1966. A subsequent investigation in 1978 found that more than 100,000 drums of waste were being stored on the property. 27,000 of those drums were buried underground.
Aside from the fire and the strong smell, the toxic dump site didn't really seem to disrupt life in surrounding towns for quite some time. In the late 1970s, however, that all changed.
Over time, many of the buried drums had decayed, which caused their contents to spill into the soil. Rain runoff carried the chemicals into nearby rivers and streams. In 1979, melting snow caused a catastrophic amount of chemicals to flow into nearby waterways. The toxic waters eventually made it to Louisville, Kentucky.
Local officials tried to respond by cleaning up the site, but they quickly realized that the extent of the damage was outside their scope of expertise.
That's when they began asking Congress and the EPA for help.
The EPA sent officials to clean the site in 1983, and they didn't finish until 1990.
Despite their heroic efforts, the Valley of the Drums remains a toxic dump site, and people are prohibited from visiting the property. A recent inspection revealed that the air around this chemical-ridden zone is still contaminated to this day.
The terrifying thing is that there are more sites like this in the U.S. that haven't been cleaned up by the EPA. I just hope that you don't live near any of them...