Kyshtym Disaster

  • Initial Construction of the Mayak Plant

    Initial Construction of the Mayak Plant
    • The Soviet Union began construction of a nuclear plant in order to rapidly research and develop nuclear weapons.
    • Construction of the plant occurred rapidly over 3 years, and supposedly safety concerns were evident from early on.
    • The Mayak plant produced weapon-grade plutonium for nuclear bombs.
  • Construction was Finished

    Construction was Finished
    • Once the facility was finished, orders were given to produce as much plutonium as possible.
    • Due to the rapid production pace, the plant soon ran out of space for nuclear waste.
    • Workers started dumping waste in the nearby Techa river.
  • Storage Tank for Nuclear Waste Added

    Storage Tank for Nuclear Waste Added
    • Consisted of steel tanks mounted to concrete.
    • The waste created a lot of heat, so coolers were built.
    • Monitoring systems for the coolers were inadequate.
  • Explosion

    • The cooling system for one storage tank failed which resulted in combustion of 70 to 80 tons of radioactive waste (20 million Ci released into the air).
    • This explosion contaminated thousands of square kilometers of land.
    • The explosion was covered up and the full extent of the event was not known for many years.
    • This disaster is ranked as a 6 (serious accident) on the 0-7 International Nuclear Event Scale. This is the only event ranked at 6.
  • Initial Evacuation

    Initial Evacuation
    • Populations of affected areas were not initially informed of the accident.
    • 1 week later, 10,000 people were evacuated without explanation.
    • Slaughter of livestock was required, in addition to burying crops and plowing farmland.
  • Initial Reports in western news

    Initial Reports in western news
    • Initial reports were unfounded and scattered; there was no clarity about what had happened.
    • Copenhagen newspaper reported a "catastrophic accident" involving Soviet nuclear weapons.
    • 1 year later an Austrian newspaper reported about an accident at a Soviet Atomic Plant.
  • Restrictions on farming began

    Restrictions on farming began
    • Restrictions were put in place to reduce radionuclide intake with food products.
    • Small farms had to close so that large farms with special conditions and radiation monitoring could take care of meat production,
    • Production of grain and vegetables was banned.
    • Production of milk was limited.
  • East Ural Nature Reserve Established

    East Ural Nature Reserve Established
    • This area disguised the "East Ural Radioactive Trace" which was the land area exposure to radioactive contamination.
    • About 270,000 people inhabited this area.
    • It is now regularly monitored and the population from this area undergoes long-term medical follow-up.
    • The evacuated population was provided with new accomodations.
  • Zhores Medvedev Dissents and Discloses Extent of Disaster

    Zhores Medvedev Dissents and Discloses Extent of Disaster
    • 18 years after the accident, Medvedev, a biologist, made the nature of the accident known in a publication in the journal New Scientist.
    • Dr. Medvedev reported that the accident killed hundreds and created a wasteland of 400 square miles.
    • He termed this the worst nuclear accident in history because it disseminated a larger quantity if Strontium-90 than Chernobyl.
  • Soviet Governemnt Publishes Report to UN

    Soviet Governemnt Publishes Report to UN
    • Some details of the accident were included in a report on Chernobyl that was submitted to the UN.
    • This report blew the Soviet Union's cover.
    • They did however continue to minimize the extent of the damage.
  • Study of affected population

    Study of affected population
    • Long-term effects were difficult to assess because of the disaster secrecy and because radioactive waste has been routinely released into the nearby environment for many years.
    • Cancer incidence and mortality in the EURT are comparable to Chernobyl clean-up workers and Hiroshima survivors.
    • The population has suffered increased rates of cancer, deformities and other major health problems.
  • Muslyumovo Residents Finally Relocated

    Muslyumovo Residents Finally Relocated
    • This village was worst hit by the accident.
    • Residents were given a choice of either a new home or a 1 million ruble ($30,000) payout.
    • The relocated village was placed only 2 km down the road, still within the contamination zone.
    • Residents have other minimal benefits, like $8.50/month for living there and $6.80 for medicines.
    • To this day, it is reported that radioactive wastewater is still dumped into ponds around and connected to the Techa River.