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RADNET does not have the staff or resources to document Russian military and civilian nuclear energy source points of anthropogenic radioactivity. The following locations and citations are only an overview of the nuclear debacle in the former Soviet Union.

Cochran, T., Arkin, W., Norris, R., and Sands, J. (1989). Soviet nuclear weapons. In Nuclear Weapons Databook, volume IV. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., New York.

Egorov, Nikolai N., Novikov, Vladimir M., Parker, Frank L. and Popov, Victor K., Eds. (June 2000). The radiation legacy of the Soviet nuclear complex. Earthscan Publications Ltd., United Kingdom. IS.

Feshbach, M. (1995). Russia in transition, ecological disaster, cleaning up the hidden legacy of the Soviet regime. A Twentieth century fund report, New York.

Hoffman, David. (March 15, 1998). Shattered shield: Cold-War doctrines refuse to die. Washington Post. Washington, DC. pg. A01.

Hoffman, David. (March 16, 1998). Shattered shield: Downsizing a mighty arsenal. Washington Post. Washington, DC. pg. A01.

Hoffman, David. (August 17, 1998). Wastes of war: Radioactivity threatens a mighty river. Washington Post. Washington, DC. pg. A1.

Lee, R. (1996). State of the Russian Navy data page. With sub-files, available at URL: http://www.webcom.com/~amraam/rnav.html. Last updated January, 1996.

United States General Accounting Office. (November, 1995). Nuclear safety, concerns with nuclear facilities and other sources of radiation in the former Soviet Union. Report to Senator Bob Graham, Washington D.C.
The Southern Urals

The Southern Urals are the location of numerous overlapping plumes of radioactive contamination in the environment from a number of Russian military source points including the MAYAK complex of plutonium and weapons production facilities (See Aarkrog, et al., 1993, Sources to Environmental Radioactive Contamination in the USSR; Aarkrog, 1992, Sources of anthropogenic radionuclides in the Southern Urals, where this anomaly was first noted, and the general bibliography and annotations at the beginning of this section of RADNET). The following three locations are major plume source points of radioactive contamination in the Southern Ural area.
Kyshtym 1957 

Kyshtym is a city located to the east of a nuclear weapons production and fuel reprocessing facilities called MAYAK, and gives its name to an accident in 1957 in which a tank containing high-level wastes exploded and contaminated the environment. The release from this explosion was the largest in a whole series of discharges of all forms of radioactive waste to the environment in this area. For a summary of the total radioactivity released in this area, see Techa River subsection below, as well as comments on the Lake Karachay source point.

"On 29 September 1957, a chemical explosion occurred in a tank containing nitrate-acetate high level radioactive waste in Kyshtym ... The total deposition was 74 PBq... Today, nearly 33 years after the accident, the short-lived radionuclides have decayed to essentially zero activity, but there is still 1 PBq 90Sr left, which, together with its daughter 90Y, accounts for 99% of the total activity; 137Cs accounts for 0.7% only, corresponding to about 14 TBq. Small amounts of Pu may also be present." (Aarkrog, et al, 1992, p.70-71).

Joint Russian-Norwegian Expert Group. (1993). A survey of artificial radionuclides in the Kara Sea. Results from the Russian-Norwegian 1992 expedition to the Barents and Kara seas. Osteras, Norway: Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority.

Romanov, G.N., Nikipelov, B.V., Drozhko, E.G. (1990). The Kyshtym accident: causes, scale and radiation characteristics. (Report No. EUR-13574). In: Proceedings of Seminar on Comparative Assessment of the Environmental Impact of Radionuclides Released during Three Major Nuclear Accidents: Kyshtym, Windscale, Chernobyl. Luxembourg: CEC.

Ternovskij, I.A., Romanov, G.N., Federov, E.A., Teverovskij, E.N. and Kolina, Yu B. (1989). Radioactive cloud trace formation dynamics after the radiation accident in the South Urals in 1957: Migration processes. (IAEA SM 316/55). Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency.

Trabalka, J.R., Eyman, L.D. and Auerback, S.I.. (1980). Analysis of the 1957-1958 Soviet nuclear accident. Science, 209, 345-53.

Trabalka, J.R., Auerbach, S.E. and Eyman, L.D. (1980). Technical Note: The 1957-1958 Soviet nuclear accident in the Urals. Nuclear Safety, 21, 94-9.
Karachay Lake Wind Transfer

The Karachay Lake accident represents a genre of nuclear accidents that could become more common in the twenty-first century: Wind-blown redistribution of uncontained high-level waste. Karachay Lake was one of a number of repositories for the discharge of liquid high-level waste in the Chelyabinsk area from the MAYAK weapons production facilities. This small lake, not dissimilar to many U.S. DOE holding ponds and waste lagoons, was within a swampy area that became desiccated during the drought of the mid-60's, and during 1967-1970 windblown contamination was dispersed from the shores of the lake over a wide area. Aarkrog, et al. give the following summary of the inventories of radioactivity dispersed by the remobilization of these high-level wastes:

"...About 120 MCi (c. 4 Ebq) 90Sr and 137Cs have been disposed of. Dust from the lake bed was blown over a vast area, up to 75 km in length. Some 600 Ci (c. 20 TBq) of 137Cs and 90Sr from the shores of Lake Karachay contaminated about 1800 km2, including portions under the radioactive plume from the 1957 accident at Kyshtym." (Aarkrog, et al., 1992, p. 71)
Techa River

The Techa River area is a huge source point of contamination from forty years of weapons production at the MAYAK complex. The full dimensions of the radioactive releases in this area are not yet known but Aarkrog, et al. (1993) estimate that 40 EBq (>One billion curies) of high level waste from radiochemical procedures have been released in the environment in the vicinity of the complex, including 120,000,000 Ci in open, natural environments. Additional quantities of waste and spent fuel are estimated at 38 Ebq including 25 tons of 241Am. Total contamination from the complex of Soviet source points in the Southern Urals is estimated at 800 PBq 90Sr and 3,600 PBq 137Cs, 36 times the amount of the Chernobyl release of 137Cs (Aarkrog, et al. 1993, p.16 + 29). The following is his summary of one component of the MAYAK release; paradoxically more information is now available about Soviet military plume source points than is available about certain U.S. military plume source points.

"In 1949-1951 medium liquid radioactive waste was released from the plutonium production at Cheliabinsk-40 (MAYAK) to the Techa river, which belongs to the Iset-Tobol-Irtysh-Ob river system. About 100 PBq were discharged. Most of the release (95%) occurred in 1950 and 1951. 90Sr and 137Cs contributed 11.6% and 12.2%, respectively. In 1993, 42 years later, the environmental contamination from this source had decayed to 4.2 PBq 90Sr and 4.6 PBq 137Cs... Most of the activity discharged from MAYAK has been retained in the cascade of reservoirs and by-pass canals constructed in 1951 at the upper reaches of the Techa river." (Aarkrog, 1994, p. 23; Aarkrog, et al. also give a detailed overview of the situation in the vicinity of the MAYAK complex in "Sources to Environmental Radioactive Contamination in the Former USSR," 1993)

Nikipelov, B.V. (1989). Experience in managing the radiological and radioecological consequences of the accidental release of radioactivity which occurred in the southern Urals in 1957. (IAEA SM 316/55). Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency.

Trapeznikov, A., Aarkrog, A., Pozolotina, V., Nielsen, S.P., Polikarpov, G., Molchanova, I., Karavaeva, E., Yushkov, P., Trapeznikova, V. and Kulikov, N. (1994). Radioactive pollution of the Ob River system from Urals nuclear enterprise "MAJAK". J. Environ. Radioactivity, 25, 85-98.

Trapeznikov, A.V., Pozolotina, V.N., Chebotina, M., Chukanov, V.N., Trapeznikova, V.N., Kulikov, N.V., Nielsen, S.P., Aarkrog, A. (1993). Radioactive contamination of the Techa River, the Urals. Health Physics, 65, 481-488.

Other Major Russian Plume Source Points include:

A once secret fuel reprocessing facility which is currently operating at full capacity reprocessing nuclear materials derived from dismantled Russian war heads. This facility is located in eastern Russia and due to present and anticipated fuel reprocessing activities, this source point has the potential to be the location of a nuclear accident at some point in the future. RADNET has no additional information documenting contamination at this location: citations welcomed.
Kola Peninsula 

The Kola Peninsula is located adjacent to Novya Zemlya test site and it has become the recent focus of attention as an important Russian source point of radioactive contamination due to the presence of approximately 270 atomic reactors on the peninsula or in the oceans adjacent to the peninsula. These reactors are associated with the Russian Northern Fleet, and according to the Norwegian environmental organization Bellona (RADNET Section 13: RADLINKS: click on Bellona) represent 18% of the worlds' atomic reactors. Bellona has recently released an important report by Nilson et. al. cited below on this source point; the Bellona WWW site also contains an extensive bibliography of publications pertaining to contamination on or near the Kola peninsula. This Section of RADNET, Part 9: Nuclear Submarine Accidents and Dump Sites, contains additional citations pertaining to contamination at the Kola peninsula.

Handler, J., Radioactive waste situation in the Russian Pacific Fleet, nuclear waste disposal problems, submarine decommissioning, submarine safety, and security of naval fuel, Greenpeace Trip Report, Washington D. C. October 27, 1994.

Hoffman, David. (November 16, 1998). Rotting nuclear subs pose threat in Russia; Moscow lacks funds for disposal. Washington Post. Washington, DC. pg. A01.

Nilsen, T., Kudrik, I., and Nikitin, A., Report 2:1996, The Russian Northern Fleet - Sources to radioactive contamination. April 1996, 168 pages.

Office of Technology Assessment, Nuclear Waste in the Arctic, an analysis of Arctic and other regional impacts from Soviet nuclear contamination, Congress of the United States, Washington D. C., April 1995.

Office of Technology Assessment, Environment Program, Summary of Workshop on Russian Naval Spent Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management, Congress of the United States, Washington D. C., April 1995.

Ries, T., and Skorve, J., Investigating Kola, a study of military bases using satellite photography, The Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Oslo 1987.

Skorve, J., The Kola satellite image atlas, The Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Oslo 1991.

Vakulovsky, S.M., Kryshsev, I.I., Nikitin, A.I. (1995). Radioactive contamination of the Yenisei River. J. Environ. Radioactivity, 29, 3, 225-236.

Novaya Zemlya Test Site

Novaya Zemlya was the site of the largest number of test explosions of nuclear weapons which occurred in Russia 1955-1962 (there are numerous other locations where tests were conducted in the same time period). Regional and global radioactive contamination derived form this location is estimated by Aarkrog, et al. 1993 at 370 PBq 90Sr and 560 PBq 137Cs.

Gronhaug, K.L. (1991). The nuclear atmospheric explosions on Novaya Zemlya. Estimates of positions, energy and radiation release. Paper No. 22 in proceedings of conference on "The radiological and radiation protection problems in Nordic regions". Tromso 21-22. Oslo: Nordic Society for Radiation Protection.

Hibbs, M. (January 18, 1993). Minatom may dispose spent RBMK fuel in Arctic permafrost at Novaya Zemlya. Nuclear Fuel. p. 4.

Kryshev, I.I. and Sazykina, T.G. (1995). Radiological consequences of radioactive contamination of the Kara and Barents Seas. J. Environ. Radioactivity, 29, 2, 213-224.

Mikhailov, V.N., Matuschenko, A.M., Dumik, V.K., Safronov, V.G. and Tsyrkov, G.A. (1991). Chronicle and phenomenology of nuclear tests on the Novaya Zemlya test range. Paper No. 17A in proceedings of conference on "The radiological and radiation protection problems in Nordic regions". Tromso 21-22. Oslo: Nordic Society for Radiation Protection.
Semipalatinsk Test Site

Information wanted on this source point.

One of at least six other sites used for nuclear weapons production and fuel reprocessing in Russia, Aarkrog, et al, (1993) estimates seventy tons of plutonium were produced at this site, compared with forty tons of plutonium produced at Dodonovo, on the shores of Yenisey River, northeast of Krasnoyarsk. A gas explosion in April of 1993 released radioactivity which Aarkrog estimates at 1.5 TBq, including 50 GBq 239Pu.

González, A.J., Bennett, B.G. and Webb, G.A.M. (April 6, 1993). Mission report: radiological accident at Tomsk-7. IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna.

Hyder, M.L., Lussie, W.G. and Witmer, F.E. (July - September, 1996). Explosion in the Tomsk-7 reprocessing plant on April 6, 1993. Nuclear Safety: Technical Progress Journal. 37(3). pg. 222-234.

Mackenzie, D. and Bastable, J. (April 24, 1993). Plutonium missing after Tomsk blast. New Scientist. p.5.

Tcherkezian, V., Galushkin, B., Goryachenkova, T., Kahkarov, L., Liul, A., Roschina, I. and Rumiantsev, O. (1995). Forms of contamination of the environment by radionuclides after the Tomsk accident (Russia, 1993). J. Environ. Radioactivity, 27, 2, 133-139.
1993 Tomsk Hot particles total activity 95Nb 6,524 Bq
1993 Tomsk Hot particles total activity 106Ru 4,392 Bq

Sosnovyy Bor 

Toivonen, et al. (1992). Radioactive release from Sosnovyy Bor, St. Petersburg, in March 1992. (Report No. STUK-A104). Helsinki: Finnish Centre for Radiation and Nuclear Safety.


Vladivostok is the headquarters for the Russian far eastern naval fleet and a counterpart to the Russian naval installations on the Kola peninsula near Scandinavia. Recent press reports (San Francisco Chronicle 12/86) indicate this is the location of large amounts of Russian nuclear wastes including the reactor cores of at least 50 decommissioned missile submarines as well as fuel rods and other fission products. Submarine repair yard waste is estimated at 16,000 cubic meters of solid high-level waste. Prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union, large quantities of low-level waste, much of which derived from this location, were dumped into the nearby Sea of Japan, the Sea of Okhotsk, as well as into the North Pacific near the Kamchatka Peninsula.

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