Human impacts of radioactive contamination in Mayak, Russia.

Multimedia | 1 April, 2000

Between 1948 and 1956 radioactive waste from the giant Mayak nuclear complex was poured straight into the Techa River, the source of drinking water for many villages. It exposed 124,000 people to medium- and high levels of radiation. Nuclear waste was also dumped into the lakes of West Siberia. One of these fell dry during a hot summer and a storm blew nuclear dust across a vast area around the lake. In 1957 one of the cooling systems of the Mayak-plant exploded and more than half the amount of radioactive waste released by the accident in Chernobyl got into the atmosphere. Some villagers were evacuated, but many were not. At least 272,000 people were affected by Mayak-radiation.