10 Toxic Towns You Still Can’t Live In
New Idria, California, USA
New Idria in northern California’s Diablo Mountain Range was founded in 1854 to house workers who toiled away in the adjacent mercury mine, which went on to become one of America’s chief producers of the metal. By the mid-20th century, the town was a bustling community and had a number of shops, a post office, a school and a church.
The mine closed down in 1972 leading to a mass exodus of workers and their families. Its livelihood stripped away, New Idria fast became a deserted ghost town.
Concerns over contamination in the area began building in the 1990s and since then, worrying levels of mercury and other toxic metals have been detected in the town and downstream of the mine.
In 2010, a fire ripped through buildings on the settlement’s north side and two years later the south side of the town was fenced off. Despite this, several former residents were known to visit periodically during this time, including the last mining supervisor Mark Ward, who would travel to the site with his wife and son to repair damaged structures.
Clean-up operations were conducted in 2012 and 2015 but the site remains toxic and uninhabitable. In addition to mercury and heavy metal contaminants, a large tract of land south of New Idria has been deemed an Asbestos Hazard Area. This is one place in sunny California you definitely want to steer clear of.