Atomic Deserts: A Survey of the World's Radioactive No-Go Zones
Part 13: The First Big Accident
The Soviet nuclear testing site in present-day Kazakhstan is just one of many places in the world that remain dangerously radioactive to this day.
The speed of construction carried a great cost. In 1955, 251 workers were exposed to radiation during repair work. Then, on Oct. 10 1957, a reactor core began to burn. In an attempt to extinguish the fire, a radioactive cloud was released, followed by a second one the next day. The radiation reached as far as Switzerland. The fires were only brought under control after two days.
The authorities attempted to cover up the accident, initially saying only that there had been an incident, but that the workers involved had been able to scrub away the radiation with soap and water. The only warning was that cow's milk in a radius of 200 miles from the reactor should not be consumed. In reality, the population surrounding the reactor received radiation doses 10 times higher than that seen as permissible for a lifetime.
According to official figures, 33 people were killed by the after-effects of the disaster, with more than 200 diagnosed with thyroid cancer. To this day, 15 tons of damage fuel rods are still stored on site as is radioactive ash and mud, leftover from the fire. The reactor is now to be dismantled using a robot built exclusively for the project. In all, it is set to cost some 500 million pounds.
- Part 1: A Survey of the World's Radioactive No-Go Zones
- Part 2: A New Age Dawns
- Part 3: 'Now I Am Become Death'
- Part 4: Uninhabitable to This Day
- Part 5: The Radioactive Dilemma
- Part 6: Unrelenting Bombardment
- Part 7: A Deadly Legacy
- Part 8: A Nuclear No Man's Land
- Part 9: Unfathomable Destruction
- Part 10: Long-Term Effects
- Part 11: The Irradiated Buddha
- Part 12: Underground Time Bomb
- Part 13: The First Big Accident
- Part 14: The Desert Rats
- Part 15: An Ill-Advised Test
- Part 16: Mushroom Clouds in the South Pacific
- Part 17: Dangerous Negligence
- Part 18: Hydrogen Drama in Spain
- Part 19: Harrisburg Horror
- Part 20: The Unknown Catastrophe
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