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The Nuke Disaster We Never Hear About

Granted this is from the highly unreliable Wikipedia, the main points are substantiated with heavy documentation:

(Click to enlarge)

Kyshtym disaster

The Kyshtym disaster was a radiation contamination incident that occurred on 29 September 1957 at Mayak, a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Russia (then a part of the Soviet Union). It measured as a Level 6 disaster on the International Nuclear Event Scale, making it the second most serious nuclear accident ever recorded (after the Chernobyl disaster).

Notice that officials are currently declaring the Fukushima plant to be a Level 6 disaster. Which just goes to show how hysterical some people are getting.

The event occurred in the town of Ozyorsk, a closed city built around the Mayak plant. Since Ozyorsk/Mayak (also known as Chelyabinsk-40 and Chelyabinsk-65) was not marked on maps, the disaster was named after Kyshtym, the nearest known town.

The good old ‘open’ Soviet Union.

After the Second World War the Soviet Union lagged behind the United States in development of nuclear weapons, so it started a rapid research and development program to produce a sufficient amount of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium. The Mayak plant was built in a great hurry between 1945 and 1948. Gaps in knowledge of Soviet physicists about nuclear physics at the time made it difficult to judge the safety of many decisions. Also, environmental concerns were not taken seriously during the early development stage

Since we are talking about well-intentioned communists, excuses must be made. How were the Russians scientists supposed to know that nuclear materials are dangerous?

A storage facility for liquid nuclear waste was added around 1953. It consisted of steel tanks mounted in a concrete base, 8.2 meters underground. Because of the high level of radioactivity, the waste was heating itself through decay heat (though a chain reaction was not possible). For that reason, a cooler was built around each bank containing 20 tanks. Facilities for monitoring operation of the coolers and the content of the tanks were not adequate.

In September 1957 the cooling system in one of the tanks containing about 70–80 tons of radioactive waste failed, and the temperature in it started to rise, resulting in a non-nuclear explosion of the dried waste having a force estimated at about 70–100 tons of TNT, which threw the concrete lid, weighing 160 tons, into the air. There were no immediate casualties as a result of the explosion, which released an estimated 2 to 50 MCi (74 to 1850 PBq ) of radioactivity.

In the next 10 to 11 hours the radioactive cloud moved towards the northeast, reaching 300–350 kilometers from the accident. The fallout of the cloud resulted in a long-term contamination of an area of more than 800 square kilometers, primarily with caesium-137 and strontium-90. This area is usually referred to as the East-Ural Radioactive Trace (EURT).

Because of the secrecy surrounding Mayak, the population of affected areas were not initially informed of the accident. A week later (on 6 October) an operation for evacuating 10,000 people from the affected area started, still without giving an explanation of the reasons for evacuation. People "grew hysterical with fear with the incidence of unknown ‘mysterious’ diseases breaking out. Victims were seen with skin ‘sloughing off’ their faces, hands and other exposed parts of their bodies."

Even though the Soviet government suppressed information about the figures, it is estimated that the direct exposure to radiation caused at least 200 cases of death from cancer.

Which, while pretty terrible, is low compared to say a hydro-power dam breech, like what happened last year in China. By the way, note that there is no mention of long-term causalities.

To reduce the spread of radioactive contamination after the accident, contaminated soil was excavated and stockpiled in fenced enclosures that were called "graveyards of the earth".

The Soviet government in 1968 disguised the EURT area by creating the East-Ural Nature Reserve, which prohibited any unauthorised access to the affected area.

The Soviets also turned Chernobyl into an animal preserve — without a peep from PETA. But this is not the latest news about this site. It gets better. (See below.)

Rumours of a nuclear mishap somewhere in the vicinity of Chelyabinsk had long been circulating in the West. That there had been a serious nuclear accident east of the Urals was eventually inferred from research on the effects of radioactivity on plants, animals, and ecosystems, published by Professor Leo Tumerman, former head of the Biophysics Laboratory at the Institute of Molecular Biology in Moscow, and associates…

Who was surely writing from the safety of the West.

Only in 1990 did the Soviet government declassify documents pertaining to the disaster.

And you can bet they only released the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Still, why do they need to worry. Our watchdog media will never criticize any failing of the noble experiments carried out in the name of communism.

And speaking of experiments, here is what they are doing with the Kyshtym area from just last week, via the Russian news and tourism site, Russia Info-Center:

Extreme Entertainments Park to Appear in Chelyabinsk Region

One of the oldest centers of metallurgy in the Urals – the city of Kyshtym of the Chelyabinsk Region – stakes on tourism development.


Park of extreme entertainments is planned to be created on the territory of a former military unit. The program is based on the fact that the city is already visited by hundreds of tourists, but they do it independently, without participation of local authorities and businessmen.

Kyshtym really has a number of attractions, in particular alpine skiing tracks on mountains Sugomak and Yegoza, the so-called “Devil’s settlement” – unique stone formations, a sports-tourist complex and a sanatorium.

"Extreme entertainments" is right.

Oh, those crazy Russians.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, March 17th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “The Nuke Disaster We Never Hear About”

  1. proreason says:

    Obamy must be consumed with envy that he doesn’t have such control over information in this country.

    Heck, he doesn’t even dare to publicly extol the myriad virtues of the Soviet Union and it blessed system of government control. You can bet there weren’t any rabid Tea Party mass murderes in those good old days either.

  2. GetBackJack says:

    Shiiiite … let’s talk about TOMSK-7

    Chernobyl released 50m curies. This place is at 1,200m curies.

    But nary a peep from our State Media lackeys trowleing out the company line for The Man.

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