STS History

The decision to establish a nuclear test site was made by the Central Committee of the SU Communist Party (SU CPCC) and the USSR Council of Ministers (USSR CM) in 1947. A decree enacted on August 21, 1947 called into being a Mountain Seismic Station (Object 905) which in 1948 was renamed into the Training Ground of the USSR Ministry of Armed Forces and later re-renamed into State Central Research Proving Ground 2 (GOCNIIP 2). First mili-tary sub-units (military unit 52605) started re-deploying to the new concentration area on June 1, 1948.

The Semipalatinsk Test Site (STS) partly occupied territories of three administrative regions of the Republic of Kazakhstan: Semipalatinsk Oblast (now East-Kazakhstan Oblast), Pavlodar Oblast, and Karaganda Oblast. The area of the test site encompassed 18500 square kilometres, the overall perimeter being some 600 km. The test site respectively occupied 54%, 39% and 7% of administrative regions mentioned above.

In 1949 a settlement, which was lately to become the administrative centre of the test site (now Kurchatov-City), was being constructed on the bank of the Irtysh River along with preparation of objects and installations for conducting nuclear tests.

Preparatory work was accomplished by July 1949. The first nuclear device was detonated on August 29, 1949. It was made under the direct scientific leadership of Igor V. Kurchatov. The first thermonuclear device and the hydrogen bomb were tested, respectively, on August 12, 1953 and November 22, 1955. Totally, 467 nuclear tests have been conducted at the Semipalatinsk test site within 1949 - 1990.

Baikal and IGR reactor sites, which accommodate three nuclear research reactors - IWG1.M, RA and IGR, as well as different test benches and facilities - were used to develop nuclear power plants for power engineering and propulsion systems for space purposes and to study physics of pulse reactors and carry out studies in the area of nuclear power safety.

The Experimental Field was the first STS test area designed to carry out ground and atmospheric tests of 1949 - 1962. The area of the Experimental Field was about 300 square kilometres, the perimeter being 64 kilometres. The first nuclear device was detonated here at 7:00 a.m. on August 29, 1949. The first thermonuclear device and the hydrogen bomb were also exploded here on August 12, 1953 and November 22, 1955, respectively.

The Experimental Field was a large-scale system of engineering structures and other various constructions intended for conducting tests and recording their parameters under conditions of full-scale experiment. Up to now detached fragments of instrumental and fortification con-structions with footprints of nuclear test impact are being found here. The centre of the Experimental Field was the ground zero of many tests including the very first one. Ground "footprints" of radioactive plumes present now sources of ionising radiation. These contami-nated areas have been rigged for calibration of radiometric instruments of aerial basing used for environment protection studies in the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

In 1988 two underground nuclear explosions have been each conducted at the Nevada test site (August 17) and Semipalatinsk test site (September 14, Balapan) in order to work out effec-tive methods for control of execution of the Agreement Concerning Restriction of Under-ground Nuclear Testing signed by the USSR and the USA on July 3, 1974. For the first time mutually controlled calibrated values of underground nuclear tests were obtained.

The last underground nuclear explosion conducted at STS was made in one of the boreholes at the Balapan technical site on October 19, 1989. 131 underground nuclear tests have been totally made at the Balapan technical site within 1968 - 1989.

Apart from the Balapan technical site, underground nuclear tests were carried out in tunnels (horizontal mine workings) of the Degelen Mountain Massif known as the Technical Site "G". 181 tunnels with cross-section from 9 to 25 square meters and over 1000-meter depth have been worked in the mountain massif by 1991. 163 of them have been used for nuclear testing. Totally, 209 underground nuclear explosions have been conducted in tunnels of the Degelen Mountain Massif within 1961-1989.

Presidential Decree No. 409 dated August 29, 1991 ceased the operation of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site.

Based on the former Semipalatinsk test site facilities and related scientific institutions present in the Republic the National Nuclear Centre of the Republic of Kazakhstan was founded by Presidential Decree No.779 on May 15, 1992. RK NNC consists of the Institute of Nuclear Physics located in Alatau settlement near Almaty and four institutions situated in Kurchatov City - the Institute of Atomic Energy, the Institute of Radiation Safety and Ecology, the In-stitute of Geophysical Research and the Regional Medical and Diagnostic Centre.


Dedicated to the 25th Anniversary of Semipalatinsk Test Site Closure
VII International Conference SEMIPALATINSK

First announcement 
Second announcement 

STS in details

WEB-site "STS current state"

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