Over 70% of all nuclear tests of the former USSR were conducted in Kazakhstan in period 1949 to 1989. Most of them including 116 aboveground (surface and atmospheric) were conducted on the Semipalatinsk Test Site (STS). The USSR first atomic bomb (1949) and the first hydrogen bomb in the world (1955) were detonated at the STS.
Problems related to the study of nuclear testing consequences in Kazakhstan and prevention of further contamination of the environment are among the urgent problems faced by the Republic at present.
One of the priority tasks in NNC's activity defined by the RK Government is the elimination of nuclear testing consequences in Kazakhstan.
Nuclear Test Locations in Kazakhstan
In past 10 years after closure of the test site the center's specialists systematically worked to eliminate the nuclear test effects at the STS:
- Degelen tunnels were completely sealed, Balapan holes were experimentally closed.
- For the first time Kazakhstan, Russian and US specialists took field radioecological measurements and carried out spectrometric and radiochemical analyses of samples.
- Reliable data were obtained on radionuclides concentration and distribution in the environment.
- The most hazardous and closest to the residential areas spots are monitored quarterly.
- Specific work is conducted on certain test site areas to define the order and regulation of land reclamation for the national economy needs or their conservation.
- Methods and technologies are developed to preclude secondary contamination of the environment.
- In 1998 the work on creation of the Polygon Geoinformation System was commenced.
- A databank on radioecological state of the former testing nuclear sites is filled (STS, Azgir, Lira).
To carry out radiation monitoring tasks an Aksai branch was organized at the former Lira testing site.
An Azgir radioecological expedition conducting radiation monitoring of the area is operating at the former Azgir nuclear in western Kazakhstan.
One of the important components to improve radiation situation in Kazakhstan is a Baikal storage facility for ionizing radiation ampoule sources created on the basis of Baikal-1 reactor complex. At present this storage facility being the only one in Kazakhstan receives spent sources from all sites of the Republic.