A journey to Kazakhstan July 2014
A journey to the Northeast of Kazakhstan & the former nuclear test ground of the Soviet Union.
More than half the size of Belgium (18.000 sqkm) 496 nuclear test explosions happened there 1949 - 1989 ( 113 above the ground). The secret city Kurchatov was the administrative, technical and scientific center of the test area. Today, about 10.000 inhabitants are living there, a lot of the old SU buildings had been stripped to the bare walls, are abandoned and ruins. Because Kurchatov is the National center of Nuclear Research and a new nuclear power plant should be built in the area the city is revitalizing slowly but steadily.
We - my colleague and friend Alexander Royzman and I visited several places with only very moderated levels of radiation:
1) Lake Chagan, a.k.a. Atomic Lake, which was created 1965 by a nuclear explosion to test "engineering" options.
2) "Ground Zero", the place where the first nuclear bomb exploded Aug. 29, 1949; it was located in a tower 30 m above ground. The original crater below it has been shallowed to a pan in the ground filled with lush green at the time we were there.
No measurable radiation @ the other locations we photographed: The abandoned "Chagan Airfield" and its living quarters nearby &, a village which originally had been built by German deportees in the early 1940. We portrait the son of one of these Germans, still living in his father's house, and an abandoned military camp.
We know that there are much more polluted areas, but because they are all located more than a day's drive away from Kurchatov, we restricted our excursion to the closer surrounding of the town (about 200 km radius).
For those who are interested in some historic film material:
about the atomic lake: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAoSUIASET0
about the 1. SU atomic bomb "First Lightning" : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aF6DhuFMtZ0&index=8&list=PL48
equipment: Canon EOS5 MkII + Linhof Technika