Six radiation disasters in the USSR, about which you have never heard
Historian and co-founder of the Democratic Sokira party Yuri Gudymenko published in Facebook a review of historical facts about serious radiation disasters that occurred during the Soviet era. Six large-scale radioactive contamination that the Soviet government concealed - and this is only what we were able to find out about today. Further - direct speech.
Fifth place. Regrouping of a Soviet satellite with a nuclear installation "Kosmos-954" from space forces to ground forces (1978)
As follows from the description, a space satellite with a nuclear reactor on board suddenly began to fall, entered the dense atmosphere and collapsed, partially burned, over the north-western regions of Canada. As a result of the fall of the satellite, more than a hundred radioactive debris were scattered over an area of approximately 124 thousands of square kilometers. No one was hurt, the Canadians and Americans picked up the fragments together, but the scandal was immense.
The result: no casualties, no injuries, the USSR paid compensation to Canada and suspended the launch of such satellites for three years. It did not help: after five years, the Cosmos-1402 satellite regrouped into the submarine fleet, giving farewell to the atmosphere of the planet 44 a kilogram of radioactive uranium, which then fell on someone for several years in a row.
Fourth place. Tragedy in Kramatorsk (1980-1989)
A famous, sad and very symbolic story. In the late seventies of the last century, a capsule with radioactive cesium from a radioisotope level gauge was lost in one of the granite quarries near Donetsk.
As you might guess, no one closed the quarry for such a trifle (although in fairness I will note that they were looking for the capsule). And in 1980, a panel high-rise building was commissioned in Kramatorsk with a surprise. The surprise, of course, lay in this very capsule, walled up in one of the panels. A year later, a young girl dies in the apartment next to the capsule, a year later her 16-year-old brother, and later their mother. And all - from leukemia. A new family is settled, in which a teenage boy soon dies, also from leukemia.
This could go on for quite a long time, and perhaps to this day under the doctors' stories about poor heredity and bad ecology, but the father of the deceased boy with the energy of a bulldozer took up an investigation into the causes, achieved research at home, including on radiation, and The wall was detected.
Bottom line: 4 dead, about two dozen irradiated, the house was temporarily resettled, but after removing the capsule, the radiation background returned to normal, and people returned home. For fans of stories about killer houses, I inform you the address: Kramatorsk, Maria Priymachenko street, 7.
Third place. Accident in Chazhma Bay (1985)
A very Russian accident. In the Sea of Japan, near the pier, reactor cores were being recharged on a nuclear submarine. The process includes lifting the reactor lid, this is a rather painstaking task, which it is highly desirable to carry out with regular lifts, while not rocking the boat (in the most literal sense).
On the subject: How to escape in the event of a nuclear war
But, firstly, the cover was lifted with non-standard lifts, and secondly, the boat was rocked. At the moment of lifting the reactor lid, ignoring the warning signals, a torpedo boat swept past the submarine at full speed. He swept through the water, the water rose in waves, the waves hit the submarine, it swayed, and the reactor lid rose a little higher than the people around her would like. However, they did not have to be nervous for a long time, because they all died a few seconds after the thermal explosion of the reactor.
The fire that was started was extinguished as if it were horrible and what it was, without a hint of clothing and understanding of the danger. The naval leadership paid special attention to the information blockade, so that the neighboring village and the territory of the shipyard were quickly cordoned off and cut off from the outside world. A few hours later, the fire was extinguished, and the wedding ring of one of the dead officers found out that the reactor gave 90 world thousands of X-rays an hour. Without a ring it would be more difficult to determine, because almost nothing remained of the bodies of the direct victims of the accident.
Bottom line: a dozen dead at the time of the accident, hundreds of irradiated people, some of whom soon died from radiation sickness and concomitant diseases such as leukemia, two submarines (the one on which the explosion occurred and the one that was being repaired at the next dock) had to be written off due to off-scale radiation. The torpedo boat was not damaged.
Second place. Accident at the plant "Krasnoe Sormovo" (1970)
Under Nizhny Novgorod, during routine tests during the construction of the nuclear submarine of the Scat project, the nuclear reactor of the boat decided to work a little. Surprising others with his workaholism, he decided to surprise them even more and exploded. Twelve installers died immediately, another fifteen hundred were exposed (60 000 X-rays).
Shipyard workers were handed out buckets, mops, rags and promises of a bonus of 50 rubles per day. Each of them signed a non-disclosure agreement for 25 years. By the end of this period, more than half of the liquidators of the accident did not survive, almost all of the survivors were disabled in the І and ІІ groups.
Results: a dozen and a half dead in the accident itself, according to the most modest estimates, about a hundred died from the consequences, a splash of radioactive water into the Volga, the boat was repaired, the information was classified.
First place. Kyshtym disaster, it is also an accident at the Mayak chemical plant in the closed village of Chelyabinsk-40 (1957)
At a secret military plant in a village unmarked on the map, they produced, of course, not food for cats, but quite themselves nuclear charges for atomic bombs. Waste products were stored there and then. At one point, one of the containers for storing such waste exploded, endowing nature with 20 million curies of radioactive substances, and not with isotopes of short-lived iodine-131, as in Chernobyl, but isotopes of strontium-90 and cesium-137 with half-lives of a third of a century, the ability to accumulate in bones and affect the bone marrow.
On the occasion of the explosion at the chemical plant, which lifted into the atmosphere a kilometer-long column of flickering orange smoke, the Chelyabinsk Rabochy newspaper, at the request of its KGB comrades, burst into an epic note about the most beautiful aurora borealis. Disinformation, yes. All information about the accident was instantly classified, most of the settlements, over which the "polar lights" shone, were destroyed, the animals were killed, the inhabitants were resettled.
Result: the third place in the list of nuclear accidents in the history of mankind (after Chernobyl and Fukushima), the formation on the world map of the first exclusion zone - VURS, East Ural radioactive trace, thousands of people were irradiated, including the military and prisoners who voluntarily-forcibly became liquidators consequences of the accident, 12 000 people are resettled from the infection zone.
Out of competition: exercises at the Totsk training ground - Operation Snowball (1954)
In 1954, the Soviet Union was preparing for a third world war, which, as conceived by the Soviet leadership, was to be held in Western Europe. Nuclear weapons have just appeared, and military science has not properly adapted to its existence. Therefore, the Soviet command decided to hold exercises. Globally, if we discard the verbal husk, the military leadership wanted to work out the capture of a Western European city by Soviet troops after these same Soviet troops dropped a nuclear bomb on the city.
The exercises took place at the Totsk training ground (not far from the current Orenburg). They built fortifications, camped, trained, lined up and, in fact, dropped the bomb. Nuclear This. From the plane, as expected. And they sent troops to attack the conditional enemy. On the glazed sand.
Zhukov, who conducted these exercises, didn’t go on the attack himself, of course, and didn’t walk much on the contaminated earth, unlike tens of thousands of soldiers, some of whom walked along the epicenter about an hour after the explosion.
The exact results of these exercises in deaths, oncology and impotence are almost impossible to assess, because the same Zhukov very carefully made sure that the data on the Totsk teachings were classified. Each soldier signed a non-disclosure agreement for 25 years, and his documents were falsified: according to the papers, everyone who was present at the training ground was at that moment not near Orenburg (then it was called Chkalov), but in completely different places in the USSR. It is easy to guess that before the actual collapse of the Union, it was impossible for them to receive any compensation: according to the documents, you were not there.
Results: tens of thousands of people and civilians irradiated in the settlements around the landfill. There are no exact figures on mortality and probably never will be. Zhukov was satisfied with the teachings.
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