400 million cubic meters of radioactive waste threaten the Arctic area

Vannreservoar nr. 11 i Majak er fylt til kanten med flytende radioaktivt avfall.
Foto: Thomas Nilsen

Publish date: August 24, 2001

Written by: Thomas Nilsen

Translated by: Marte-Kine Sandengen

The reservoirs filled with liquid radioactice waste in Mayak is about to flow over. The governor of the Chelyabinsk region is now warning against a radioactive disaster that may affect the river system leading to the Ob in Siberia and the Arctic Ocean.

This picture illustrates one of the five water reservoirs where liquid radioactive waste from the nuclear plant in Mayak in South Ural have been stored since 1951. The five reservoirs are separated with ramparts from the river Tetcha. Every year, 10 million cubic metres of liquid radioactive waste are being dumped in the water reservoirs. Today, about 400 cubic metres of radioactive water are being held back from the river system only by a simple rampart.

In a shocking letter sent to the Russian prime minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, this summer, the district governor of Chelyabinsk, Pyotr Sumin, writes that within three or four years the water reservoirs will have reached their maximum capacity. In the letter, disclosed by the environmental group Ecodefense, Sumin warns about catastrophic consequences.

"One of the biggest and most acute problems is the risk of the ponds giving after and consequently a flood which would inflict serious consequences on the river system leading to Iset, Tobol and Ob."

6764edb88f61ca9d4bda63dac1232799.jpeg Photo: Foto: Thomas Nilsen

The map shows the water reservoirs and Mayak