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Nuclear Pollution Plagues Former Soviet Union

1715 words - 7 pages

Imagine visiting the beautiful Russian Lake Karachay only to drop dead an hour later from lethal nuclear pollution (Zimmerman). This radiation began in the mid 1940s. The Soviet Union built a secret city in Southern Urals called Ozyorsk and constructed the Mayak plutonium plant, formerly known as Chelyabinsk-40 and later as Chelyabinsk-65 after the postal codes of the site (Wikipedia contributors). Nuclear weapons began to be produced in much of a hasty, reckless manner considering no plans to get rid of waste were thought through. After three years of dumping waste into the Techa River, which provided water for about 39 towns and villages, profecionalists found the river was emitting "5 rontgens of radiation an hour" (Handley). Andrew Handley, a researcher, claims thousands of villIgers had to be relocated, and for the next 40 years, Lake Karachay would be the primary waste resivor. Not only has this pollution become a threat to Russia, but if the dam containing Lake Karachay were to break, the water could bleed into the Atlantic Ocean, threatening wild life and the water cycle. That being said, Russia is responsible for whatever damage the lake has caused in the past. Nuclear production should have never began without taking extreme safety precautions. Now that they've gotten themselves into this pickle, however, it again is their responsibility to insure the contamination does not spread by keeping a close eye on it. Perhaps Soviet Russia also pay for the damages and health problems the radiation has caused.
According to researcher Allan Bellows, Chronic Radiation Syndrome began to flare through workers of the nuclear plutonium as pollution started to accumulate. Employers complained of suffering soreness, low blood pressure, loss of cordination and tremors. In 1950 nuclear waste was to "bleed off radioactivity" in intermediate storage tanks, called vats, for a few months before being emptied into Lake Karachay. These vats sat in a concert canal a few kilometers outside of the main complex. Many tanks had multiple faults. However, in another example of Chelyabinsk 40's lack of safety precautions, these problems were ignored. Water, nitrates, and acetates (equivilant to TNT) inside of the defected tanks increased in temperature and pressure as the mixture boiled. One of the 20th century's best kept secrets happened on September, 29th, 1957 (Zaitchik). One 80,000 gallon container reached 660 degrees Fahrenheit and exploded , igniting other pipin hot tanks. The explosion combined to create an explosive force equivalent to 85 tons of TNT. 70 tons of high radioactivity spewed into the open skies. Buildings shuddered, and 270,000 Soviet citizens and their food supply were affected. According to maps what if officialy known as the "East Ural Radioactive Trace Zone," the path of destruction stretched 50km wide and 300km long (Zaitchik). Mysterious diseases emerged, though doctors were instructed specifically to diagnose suffers of...

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