BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 



Catherine Davis in Kazakhstan
"The local population didn't really know what was going on"
 real 28k

John Large, Independent Nuclear Consultant
"The real legacy is the contamination"
 real 28k

Saula Mohammed Rakimova, Kazakh journalist
"The local people are not getting any extra help"
 real 28k

Saturday, 29 July, 2000, 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK
Bang goes nuclear site

Kazakhstan's last nuclear testing site has been destroyed with a controlled explosion using 100 tonnes of dynamite.

An international team of scientists detonated the blast at Semipalatinsk in the final remaining tunnel of the Polygon test site.

A huge plume of smoke from the blast
A huge plume of smoke from the blast
It has effectively ended the former Soviet republic's capacity to test and launchi nuclear weapons.

The test site, which covers 85,000 square kilometres (32,800 square miles), was once the world's largest nuclear testing ground.

The Kazakh National Nuclear Centre worked with the US Government for the last five years to destroy silo launchers for intercontinental missiles.

Semipalatinsk
Site was 85,000 square kilometres(32,800 square miles)
470 nuclear tests over 40 years
100 tests above ground
118 tunnels and 13 bore holes closed
Other nuclear weapons at the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing grounds in northern Kazakhstan were also dealt with.

Between 1949 and 1989, the Soviet Union set off 470 nuclear explosions at the testing grounds.

More than 100 of the tests took place above ground.

Babies without hands

Our correspondent says Semipalatinsk was so secret during the Soviet era that it did not appear on the map and even the local population did not know what was taking place there.
baby
Deformed babies were abandoned by parents

Although the area is sparsely populated, people living downwind more than 100 miles away have suffered from the fallout of nuclear tests.

Locals were not warned about possible ill effects of radiation, and stories abound of babies without hands, adults with cancerous growths and dogs without fur.

The joint Kazakh American effort, organised under the international Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, closed 118 tunnels and 13 boreholes at the test site.

It was ordered shut down in 1991.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

29 Jul 00 | Europe
Nuclear nightmare revealed
05 Jan 99 | Sci/Tech
Making fuel from warheads
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories