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The Irradiated Zone on the map

The Irradiated Zone is an area located in the Badlands sector. As its name suggests, radiation is extremely high in this area, leading the colonists of Mars to stay far away from it. However, the radiation is not the only danger in this zone, as the Marauders have set up their base right next to the Irradiated Zone, allowing them to easily raid the surrounding area.

During the Second Martian Revolution, Alec Mason and Samanya travel through the Irradiated Zone to request the Marauders' assistance but not before constructing makeshift radioactive shielding, from Salvage, to allow them to pass through unharmed. The area may have been irradiated in the time period from 2050 to 2075. Ultor set aside a plot of land for dumping radioactive waste from their mining complex's reactor and equipment. The topography in the region resembles hastily buried toxic material disposal sites on Earth. It is unknown whether or not hazardous materials are continuously dumped there after the First Martian Revolution. The EDF place numerous signs on the borders of the area to warn civilians away from the radiation.. 

Another theory suggests that a ship may have been sabotaged, causing its destruction on landing. A woman named Megan Stavros placed charges on an unnamed ship, which led to its destruction. If the ship had a nuclear reactor or cargo, either might have been compromised in the explosions, allowing radiation to leak into the area surrounding the crash site. Whether or not the ship Megan Stavros destroyed landed in the Badlands is unknown, though it may explain the amount of wreckage in the surrounding regions.