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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Semipalatinsk-16
Kurchatov
N 5023' E 8011'

Russian nuclear tests have been conducted in two major areas. The former Soviet Union's largest nuclear test site was located near Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan. The Semipalatinsk Test Site was founded in 1948 with the first nuclear explosion tested in 1949 and the last in 1989. Of the 467 nuclear detonations conducted there, 346 were underground, with the first of these underground experiments conducted in 1961. A total of 87 atmospheric and 26 surface nuclear detonations were also performed at the site between 1949 and 1989. Some tests involved multiple weapon detonations.

During the early days of the atomic energy program in the former Soviet Union, some unfortunate events occurred. The country's first atomic test in Semipalatinsk in 1949 exposed over 25,000 people downwind from the blast to significant doses of fission products, especially 131I.

Along with the problem of economic development, Kazakhstan must cope with some of the worst prevailing conditions of environmental pollution in the NIS, existing pollution inherited from the Soviet era. Major current environmental problems in Kazakhstan include radioactive and toxic chemical sites associated with former defense industries and test ranges which are found throughout the country, posing health risks for humans and animals. The environmental consequences of such activities as the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site The Pavlodar, Semipalatinsk, and the Balkhash Ore Mining and Metallurgical and Achisay Polymetal combines play major roles in surface water pollution. Following Kazakhstan's independence, the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) committed to studying the environmental contamination and the resulting radiation exposure risk to the population in the Semipalatinsk and western areas of Kazakhstan.





















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