Science Of...

The Kyshtym Disaster Is The Nuclear Accident You Haven't Heard Of

You've heard of Chernobyl, and you've even heard of Fukushima. But the next biggest nuclear disaster probably won't ring any bells for you, and that's because it was largely kept secret. The Kyshtym disaster of 1957 was the third largest nuclear accident, but not even those affected knew it had happened. Heck, it didn't even happen in Kyshtym—the name was something of a cover-up. The disaster occurred in the secret, then-Soviet region called Chelyabinsk (it was renamed Ozyorsk in the early 1990s). According to the Soviets, the secret site of the accident didn't even exist.

In 1957, nuclear waste buried beneath the Mayak nuclear production site (which was located in the Chelyabinsk region) exploded. The explosion resulted in a radioactive cloud covering 20,000 square kilometers. Though roughly 10,000 residents were evacuated from the area, it took as long as ten years for some to relocate. It wasn't until 30 years after the incident that Russians admitted the whole thing even happened. Get more grim details in the video below.

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