The continuing radiation horror of Russia’s Mayak nuclear plant

Many people we spoke to say they are being used as human guinea pigs. They talk of a secret government experiment looking at the effects of radiation exposure on humans.

They say they have to go to a hospital in Chelyabinsk, the regional capital around 50km away, for treatment of the various radiation related illnesses they suffer.

text-from-the-archivesLiving in a nuclear hell, Aljazeera, By Charles Stratford in Europe , 2012-04-04 The town of Muslymovo has to be one of the saddest places on earth. The thousands of people who have little choice but to live here, on the banks of the Techa river not far from Russia’s
southern border with Kazakhstan, are the victims of a nuclear disaster that began more than six decades ago.

They are still suffering with the consequences of life next door to the Mayak nuclear plant – still dying from the radiation-related illnesses that have claimed the lives of so many before them.

Mayak was constructed in the 1940s. Our driver knew how to avoid checkpoints. We stuck a small camera on our windscreen and drove to within a hundred metres of the plant gates.

It’s like a city. Families work and live here. Teenagers chased eachother in the snow just beyond the fence.

Mayak is surrounded by silver birch forests. Signs by the road warn people not to enter the woodland or pick the wild mushrooms. Mayak once provided the Soviet Union with around 40 per cent of the world’s
weapons-grade plutonium.

The country’s first atomic bomb was built here. Between 1949 and 1951, the plant dumped hundreds of tonnes of highly radioactive waste into the nearby Techa.

Hundreds of villages were resettled but incredibly, four remain in the contaminated area. Residents don’t know why they were never moved.

Many people we spoke to say they are being used as human guinea pigs. They talk of a secret government experiment looking at the effects of radiation exposure on humans.

They say they have to go to a hospital in Chelyabinsk, the regional capital around 50km away, for treatment of the various radiation related illnesses they suffer.

One woman described her visits.

“They must have tested new drugs on us. You come from the hospital where you spend a month then get sick for a month at home. They don’t treat you. They hurt you. They don’t say anything.”

Some of the old Muslymovo village has been moved in recent years but to a place which is only a less than a half hour walk from the highly radiation polluted river. The Geiger counter readings we took by the river showed radiation levels 50 times higher than the level experts say is safe for humans.

mayak-disaster

Our driver, who himself suffers chronic radiation illness pointed to a car tyre frozen solid in icy marsh. He said if we tested our Geiger counter there we would get a reading at least three times higher than
the one we had.

There were no barriers or fences to keep people out. And there were footprints in the snow everywhere. A rusty sign warned people not to enter or pick the berries. But fishermen still come here. In the summer children still swim…….

Most of the children in this area suffer some form or other of radiation related illness.   Symptoms of Chronic radiation sickness include recurrent infections, swellings, anemia, unhealed wounds, hair
loss and bruises. Long term exposure to high rates of radiation causes birth defects and cancer.

Locals call it the “river sickness”.

The boy in our report with the growth on his neck is 17 years old. He has eight brothers and sisters. They all suffer from radiation related illness. His mother says she took him to the local doctor to get his neck checked.

She says the doctor told her the lump would disappear. She says her son was never even offered a biopsy.

This, in a place where people have died of cancer for decades. An area that has some of the highest levels of radiation pollution in the world.

“We are afraid, the consequences are terrifying. But where can we move
to?” she said… .. http://blogs.aljazeera.com/europe/2012/04/04/living-nuclear-hell

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