Atlas Obscura

This Artificial Ring Island Was Built to Hold Huge Amounts of Toxic Dirt

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Built into the middle of Ketelmeer Lake in the Netherlands is a ring-shaped island that was created from scratch to act as a dumping ground for huge amounts of toxic dirt. But hey, at least it looks pretty.

The problem started when Ketelmeer Lake became contaminated with toxic runoff that reached the waters from plants and factories upstream. The ecological damage went on for decades from the 1950s through to the 1980s. The solution for cleaning it up? Create a giant, natural garbage can that can be sorted through at leisure, thus retaining all the clean, good, natural elements, while extracting the contaminants.   

Otherwise known as the “Eye of IJssel,” the artificial island began to take shape in 1996 and was finally finished three years later, just before the turn of the century. The new land mass consists of a ring of land that encloses a perfectly circular central basin, looking almost like a little lake within the lake. A small bay was built into a curve of the island to allow boats to dock and dump the contaminated silt into the huge cauldron. The interior of the island was designed to hold 20 million cubic meters of silt dredged up from Ketelmeer’s depths, slowly removing the bad dirt, and only leaving healthy earth behind.

A processing facility was installed on the ring, which sucks in the polluted silt and cleans it, depositing it back into the environment. When the work is all completed, the IJsseloog will be converted to a public nature area. Not a bad life for an artificial dump island.  

For more on IJsseloog, visit Atlas Obscura!

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