Semipalatinsk nuclear test site – 20 years after the closure
Not so long ago Kazakhstan commemorated the 20th anniversary of closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. It is located on the border of East Kazakhstan, Pavlodar and Karaganda oblasts, about 130 km northwest of Semey city.
The main attraction of the area is “atomic” lake, which is located at the test site “Balapan”. It was formed in the explosion of a thermonuclear warhead of 140 kilotons of power in 1965.
The diameter of the lake is 500 meters; depth from the surface to the bottom is about 80 meters. In a similar way the Soviet strategists planned to build water reservoirs in arid regions of the Soviet Union. Photos by Grigory Bedenko for voxpopuli.kz
Unique video of the experiment (unfortunately on Russian only).
The shore of the lake is contaminated by radiation so much that the level of radiation is actually equivalent to radioactive waste. At this point, the dosimeter shows 1 microsieverts per hour, 114 times more than the normal level.
Chagan River. Very high concentrations of tritium (a radioactive isotope of hydrogen) were found there. The concentrations are about 100 times more comparing to usual drinking water. The pollution lasts for 10 kilometers from the borders of the Semipalatinsk test site.
The area around the lake is inhabited. The people bred cattle and horses, drink water from contaminated river.
Before the explosion it was absolutely flat steppe.
Another “attraction” of the Semipalatinsk test site. In this place the first Soviet atomic bomb exploded in 1949.
This grim construction is called the “goose”. The shockwave of a nuclear explosion was measured with these concrete structures.
The first Soviet atomic bombs were “dirty”. That’s why everything on the field is contaminated with plutonium.