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Berkeley Pit – A Toxic Tourist Attraction

That’s right, Berkeley Pit is one of the few places in the world where you have to pay to look at a giant pool of toxic waste.

Located in Butte, Montana, Berkeley Pit is a former open-pit copper mind turned weird tourist attraction. It’s one mile long over half a mile wide and 1780 feet deep, 900 of which are full of extremely toxic water. On the surface, the poison looks a lot like blood and is so saturated with copper, miners were able to harvest the metal directly from the water. From 13 million gallons of water, 400,000 pounds of copper were produced.

The acidic water includes chemicals like arsenic, cadmium, zinc or sulfuric acid and, if you were to drink some, it would corrode through your digestive system before getting a chance to poison you. In 1995 a flock of migrating geese landed on Berkeley Pit and never took flight again. A total of 342 carcasses were recovered. Since the incident a bird watch program was implemented.

But, interestingly enough, good things can come out of toxic waste. Scientists have discovered new types of bacteria that have adapted to the harsh conditions of Berkeley Pit, by producing highly toxic compounds that improve survivability. These chemicals have proven very resilient to cancer and further research is currently ongoing.

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