Mental Floss

Extreme expedition: Anthrax Island

Ransom Riggs

At the center of one of the world's worst man-made ecological disasters -- the now almost nonexistent Aral Sea, a dusty, forbidding graveyard for beached ships -- is one of the world's deadliest islands. Vozrozhdeniya Island, as it's actually called, or Anthrax Island, as it's more colloquially known, is the site of a former Soviet bio-weapons testing site, which was abandoned (along with the town that surrounded it, which once housed some thousands of bio-weapons workers and their families) in the 90s after more than 50 years of open-air testing of nasty things like plague, Ebola virus and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis. They were tested on animals and birds which were supposedly downwind from the town -- though there must have been some unexpected changes in the breeze once in a while -- and supposedly there are leaking vats of notoriously long-lasting anthrax buried around the island (no one knows exactly how many or exactly where).

As horrible as that all sounds to most of us, to some, it's irresistible -- the combination of a mysterious facility and an abandoned ghost town all housed on a forbidding island which is itself in the midst of a vast man-made wasteland was apparently so cool that one British TV host couldn't resist going -- and bringing his camera crew with him. This fascinating 10-minute video documents his day-trip to this bizarre place, and it's pretty darn cool.