Mayak Nuclear Accident in Russia 1957

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The recent events at the Nuclear Power Stations in Japan have caused a lot of discussion about the safety of Nuclear power, and one that I have been reading is the comparison to the Mayak Nuclear Accident in Russia, in 1957.

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This is one statement:
On September 29, 1957 the Mayak nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, located near Kasli in Russia, was the site of an enormous explosion which released serious amounts of radioactive materials into the environment. Almost 500,000 people were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation and died of cancer and multiple kinds of illness years after, also 200 people were killed in the explosion that rendered a whole region (the size of Belgium) a complet nuclear waste land for years and still is today very contaminated.

The poisonous effects of the radiation were stunning. 10,000 people were evacuated, but by the time that had occurred 270,000 people in the immediate area had been exposed to high amounts of radiation. As the cloud of radioactivity spread, this number grew to 470,000. 200 people died from firsthand effects of the accident, while thousands of others would grow sick over the ensuing years. Agriculture in the area was also seriously affected, with plants and livestock dying off and the ground essentially polluted beyond recovery. Millions of tons of top soil were scraped up and disposed of, and much of the existing food supply in the region had to be destroyed due to contamination by radioactivity.

So please , bear that in mind when you think of what is going-on in Japan at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex.

However, what the article does not mention is one vital difference between the Mayak plant and the Fukushima plant.

  • The Mayak chemical plant, of which the town of Ozyorsk was an offshoot, was built in the Urals regions on Stalin’s orders to produce weapons-grade plutonium.
  • The Fukushima plant is a Nuclear Power Station.

Some details of the Mayak Weapons manufacturing plant, which, in my opinion should not be likened to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station:

An atomic weapons complex called “Mayak” was built in the late 1940’s about 80 kilometers north of the city of Chelyabinsk,
To show the level of care that was taken at this plant:
From 1949 to 1956, medium and high-level radioactive liquid wastes were dumped into the river system Techa-Iset-Tobol. During this period about 76 million m3 of radioactive wastes were released into the Techa river. Over 124, 000 people living along the banks of the river system were exposed to radiation.
The 1957 accident was kept secret from the outside world for military safety reasons.

The first article referred to 270,000 people in the immediate area being exposed to high amounts of radiation, but how many of these were already radiated even before the explosion, because of the total lack of care and the dumping of radioactive waste  in the local river ?


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Even the British Nuclear accident at Windscale, also in 1957, was the result of reckless decisions taken to try to produce the-H bomb at the Windscale plant, a fact covered up until 50 years after the event.

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