The Soviet Union’s Secret Nuclear Disaster

The Soviet Union’s Secret Nuclear Disaster


This is the story of many, many secrets, and
the damage that secrets can do. After World War II ended, the Soviet Union
wanted the Bomb, and they wanted it fast. They built so-called “secret cities” across
the region – hidden from view and omitted from maps – to jumpstart the Soviet nuclear
industry. One of these cities was Chelyabinsk-40, home to the Mayak plutonium production facility.
The very first Soviet nuke was developed here in the late ‘40s. And for the residents
of the city, secrecy was a way of life. Here’s Nadezhda Kutepova, a Russian woman who grew
up in Chelyabinsk-40: Of course I saw in my childhood that we are
unusual because there were checking systems and there were soldiers around our city. My
parents told me that our city is secret, but I was not interested to know why we’re secret. The Soviet Union was obsessed with keeping
the secrets of the Mayak plant…even when secrecy started to cost lives. These photos were taken by a documentary crew
just a couple years ago, in the area around the Mayak site. Starting in 1949, this area
played host to one of the most sustained nuclear disasters in history. From 1949 to 1956, workers
at the Mayak facility discharged radioactive waste into the nearby Techa river, poisoning
the local environment and sickening nearby villagers. Then, in 1957, some nuclear waste
buried underneath the site exploded, sending a radioactive cloud drifting across 20,000
square kilometers. With its priority on secrecy, the government’s damage control was haphazard
at best. More than 10,000 civilians were evacuated from the area…but in some cases the process
took as long as 10 years. Meanwhile, leukemia rates in the area doubled. Stomach cancer
there became twice as common as in Hiroshima. And according to Alessandro Tesei, a filmmaker
on that documentary crew, communities in the region are still suffering today. We found that many who were children at the
time of the incidents, did not survive more than 40 years, and that their children have
birth malformations and diseases, especially in the heart. All in all, the accidents at Mayak may have
contaminated half a million people. It wasn’t until 1989, almost 30 years later,
that Russia admitted to accidents at Mayak. Interestingly, the CIA knew about the 1957
explosion soon after it happened…but they also kept a tight lid on what they found.
In fact, America’s intel on Mayak was wrapped up in some pretty high-stakes spycraft: the
famous U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers was shot down while surveilling the disaster site. So why would the CIA help hide the Mayak accident?
Why not embarrass the USSR with their own catastrophe? It’s hard to know…but some
have suggested that the CIA didn’t want to stoke fears in America’s own nuclear
industry. We would have our own growth, and our own disasters, to deal with in the years
to come. The Russian government is more forthright
about its history these days…but only to a point. Consider Nadezhda Kutepova, the woman
who grew up in the closed city of Chelyabinsk-40. She’s since become an advocate for the victims
of the Mayak disasters, and she helped that documentary crew shoot their film in 2013.
And she’s suffered for her involvement. Here’s filmmaker Michele Marcolin: About one year after our visit, a twist in
legislation offered the local authorities the opportunity to present her as a sort of
spy and to suggest the possibility of an arrest for treason, for her ties with foreign countries
as leader of an NGO and her relation with a military nuclear compound. Nadezhda fled to Paris to escape a government
obsessed with keeping its secrets for a little longer still. There’s still much we don’t know about
the Mayak disasters. And much of what we do know comes from the careful, partial release
of secrets held for years. Which means that finding the whole truth still demands going
to where you’re not welcome, and staring those truths in the face. If you’re looking for more on nuclear accidents,
we’ve got a doc for you to check out. “Animal Planet Presents the world premiere
of Life After: Chernobyl, Tuesday, April 26 at 10/9c.”

100 Comments on "The Soviet Union’s Secret Nuclear Disaster"


  1. Pathetic how Russians support Putin and praise him for being Anti-West, can't wait till' there is a second Russian Revolution, bound to happen one day.

    Reply

  2. The soviets have a tendency to revile secrets after 30 years. So basically everything they say now is a lie. And the lie will be admitted after 30.

    Reply

  3. 3:22 "Disaster" is a little hyperbolic for the Three Mile Island incident. "Mishap" is probably more accurate.

    Reply

  4. I have a hard time taking that woman seriously, when she cant even fit a dust mask to her face properly.

    Reply

  5. CIA did not want to publish what they knew about Soviet Union becouse they did not want Soviet Union to know what they knew.

    Reply

  6. As much fun as setting those off are (they are really fun to set off!), 4:35 shows the reader at 11.something millisieverts/h. Not exactly too big of a hazard.
    If you actually go somewhere dangerous with those types of dosimeters, they just read HIGH or DANGER (depending on who makes them) – and usually the beep changes too.

    Reply

  7. What are the Palestinian entity's (Palestinian Authority and Hamas Gaza) violations of international law?

    Reply

  8. You should do a video on the history of the asbestos industry and their secrecy.

    Reply

  9. All these and still people/trolls on youtube believe that Putin is the greatest leader on the planet. FUCK OFF

    Reply

  10. Why this woman is only in her 40s? Shouldn't her to 60 to 70 to know something about the nuclear test happened during the 50s.

    Reply

  11. If you are going to do a report on Chelyabinsk at least take a few minutes to learn how to pronounce it right

    Reply

  12. I bet that Russian chick gives the best sloppy blowjobs, oh my fucking god, look at her mouth !!!!!!

    Reply

  13. How long before the lgbt and feminism movements pussify the entire human race offering the invading arabs the perfect opportunity to take over a pussified world.

    Reply

  14. omg do you make those videos in Alabama so there's no russian speaking people who can help you with pronunciation?

    Reply

  15. Come on Putin trolls, don't make this about your pathetic cause. I grew up in Chelyabinsk-40 (well, it's no longer named that way, though still closed) and yes I would appreciate if more people knew about the accident both in Russia and worldwide, as there are still those who suffer from it, be that those who lived through it or their children, and very little is done to address that both on local and national level. I get that this video is serving a purely entertaining purpose for the audience it's aimed at but if it makes people more aware of what happened then good.

    Reply

  16. Should made one vid of the Hanford site, the experiments on the local population and the consequences……. Just saying

    Reply

  17. Those Russians!!

    God bless we have Americans – the best nation in the World. No way shit like this was ever hapenning in the US. Am I right? 🙂

    Sometimes I think that journalism is a sort of mental disfunction. Like total lack of critisism what so ever.

    Reply

  18. The Soviet Union through the eyes of the common man

    For the average person, who lived at that time, the Soviet Union – is not 76 cents on the dollar, not the most powerful army in the world and not all-powerful KGB. That is a simple man knew that the army and the KGB it securely guarded, but he did not see this power. A dollar is not seen, and even more so. It is not seen with my own eyes the whole immensity of the industry and economic growth. But seen another.

    The Soviet Union – is when you go through the streets of his native city at any time of the day and no one that will not attack – coarse words can say. Window guards on the windows of the first floor? Yes, you're crazy, that the apartment – a prison? Iron lockable doors in the hallways? What kind of savagery? Not only porches and cellars attics were wide open, and no homeless people and drug addicts in them from birth was not. Because they did not exist.

    The Soviet Union – is when you hang clothes after washing on the ropes in the courtyard, and you could not even imagine will come that something can steal or stain of hooliganism. Because there was no such on your memory.

    The Soviet Union – is when you know all the inhabitants of your house, even if there three hundred apartments, and then you can go to any apartment for salt or matches if you suddenly unexpectedly ended.

    The Soviet Union – is when a veteran enters the bus, and the bus-floor stands, freeing up space. Comes veteran in store – and step aside to let him through without waiting in line.

    A big stores have worked on the same principle, now supermarkets: dial up the goods in the cart and you go to the cashier. That's just no guards were not there, and surveillance cameras are not sticking out from every angle, in a colony of special regime and exits past the cashier was much as you want, but no one steal.

    The Soviet Union – when vending machines with soda at every corner and faceted glasses, they are always on the spot. And in the phone booths are directories. I wonder how they would have lain minutes today?

    The Soviet Union – this is the best education in the world for free. That is, in any country in the world such education even millions do not get, and citizens of the USSR – for free. And the guarantee of work on a specialty.

    The Soviet Union – is a free sports clubs in all sports, summer camps, resorts, sanatoriums. This is when you come to the district clinic and get a ticket to a sanatorium, say, in the Crimea. Is free. Just because a doctor found you some minor health problems and decided that you should correct him.

    The Soviet Union – is when in the Caucasus terrorism and drugs, resorts, motels and the best mineral water in the world. And in Ukraine, Bandera is not with swastikas, and the endless fields of wheat, aircraft and tank industry, clean city and good happy people. A Baltic States – is not the SS marches and cleaning evrounitazov half of the adult population, and the production of high-precision electronics and radio, automobiles, and the world famous balms, high salaries and licked to a shine, even by the standards of the Soviet Union, the streets.

    The Soviet Union – is when the lost child to fit a policeman, and drags in his department, and escorted to the house, rents worry parents, puts his hand to his cap and goes. Thrown into the water with the child of a fallen bridge, she rescues him, gives parents, puts his hand to his cap and goes. Not for nishtyakov career, but simply because he – a Soviet police officer.

    The Soviet Union – is when an adult could come to the child standing alone in the street and ask if he needs help. And today on this adult dogs descend all suspected of pedophilia.

    The Soviet Union – is when every third apartment keys left under the mat at the door, but no burglary. And if at once, who will pull out the TV – the next day will go to jail, and the whole city will be one hundred thousand is a couple of months to discuss.

    The Soviet Union – is when you're married and you have given to the one-room apartment. Is free. Gave birth to a child (the first or the second – where both) – and you changed odnushku at kopeck piece. Further expansion of the family (usually the third or fourth child) – and changed kopeck piece on the three-ruble note. Is free. Mortgage? What kind of word is foreign? We do not know what it means.

    The Soviet Union – is when the TV is not the mountain of corpses and dismemberment, not scam "Send SMS to the short number", not silicone prostitutes and cattle-humor below the belt, and good films and educational programs.

    The Soviet Union – is when you can not half a year to go to the store and do not care to know all the prices. If a loaf of six months ago was worth 24 kopecks, it is today so worth it. While there, you can make a mistake: he could fall in price up to 22. But the salary of every spring a little, but steadily growing up. And the ruble, forgotten between the pages of an old book found in ten years – it is the same ruble, but not depreciated paper. Even more expensive than it was 10 years ago. One of the obsessions of the Soviet advertising – "Keep your money in a savings bank!" And you know why? Because the stimulus was not – they were under the mattress is not worse than stored. Neither inflation nor burglary is not threatened Soviet man.

    The Soviet Union – is when to be steelworker or a polar pilot was as prestigious as it is now a banker. And the word "bandit" was uttered not enthusiastic aspirated as in the nineties, and with fastidious disdain. Well, the word "terrorists" for the Soviet people sounded just as incomprehensible and fantastic, as "evil three-eyed octopus from another galaxy."

    The Soviet Union – is when to such a distortion of the guards in schools, one never would have guessed. The most formidable man in the school was the cleaning lady. And "the call to the director of" sound to the student as a "military tribunal".

    Well, how else to explain to those who did not find? Imagine a place where you have been calmer, more comfortable and more reliable than most. His children's room, for example, or grandma's house in the village – one that. Presented? That's how we feel at any point in our vast country.

    Reply

  19. TERRIBLE pronunciation of Russian names. It's fine not to be fluent in Russian, but they should have found a narrator with at least a basic knowledge of the language.

    Reply

  20. Что за Русофобское видео. Информация подана в крайне негативном окрасе. Ожидал большего. Disappointed.

    Reply

  21. Hei seeker! please create a video regarding the fall of USSR. Please? pretty flish? 😀

    Reply

  22. I like nuclear power as a peaceful way to produce power when its done properly… but abusing nuclear power as a weapon is sad…. 2016 and there are a handful of areas on this planet that are so toxic and radioactive that human life cannot exist normally.

    Reply

  23. I don't get it why you subtitled the Russians while their audio is clean and Eisenhower's sounds like crap. I assumes we all clearly understand the Russians but not Eisenhower's hardly.

    Reply

  24. I expect some pro-Russians to start whining about singling them out just by posting this video and claim the entire incident is a US conspiracy plot involving jews.

    Reply

  25. Read Kate Brown's (my professor) book "Plutopia" about Maiak and Richland, both towns centered around the production of nuclear material. Very insightful read!

    Reply

  26. when we can harness the energy all around us, why do we allow these oligarchs to keep nuclear power alive. we should be demanding teslas zero point energy be made public.

    Reply

  27. Those evil Russian, preventing George Soros from giving money to NGOs in Russia!
    I hate them, I hate them, I hate them!

    Reply

  28. сук* как вы меня бесите ! Советский союз называют просто Россией Швецию со Швецарией путойте и Австралию с Австрией .

    Reply

  29. Wow, not just one but TWO NUCLEAR DISASTERS? Tut Tut As if Chernobyl wasn't bad enough already…

    Reply

  30. just shows how dumb and twisted Russians are. treason against whom, the government that does not exist anymore ?
    fkng morons.

    Reply

  31. Ok there are so many things wrong with the information in this video. But instead of doing them all, I’m doing one. Ok the radioactive cloud DID NOT stretch 20,000 Km. That’s saying it stretch around the world 12,000 miles is 5X Earths radius. So if it stretched 20,000 Km then it stretched 5 EARTHS

    Reply

  32. When you check yet another alleged "documentary". Those references in the sources provided seem very "credible".

    Reply

  33. In the last month or so I saw 2 documentaries on quite similar topics. One was on the Mayak disaster. The river is still contaminated with radiation, a lot of deformed children were born, the people are still suffering from high cancer rates and infertility. The second documentary I saw was about DuPont contaminating a river in USA with a deadly chemical, that also caused deformities in newborns and high cancer rates, only it also contaminated the whole world with that chemical called C8. Right now there's rarely found blood, that doesn't contain it. Both Mayak and DuPont are operating today and have only paid fees for their crimes. The difference though is that Mayak used to be a government-owned company, whereas DuPont was a private one. Despite the fact DuPont's crime was way bigger in scale, it's still an example, how these kinds of atrocities can happen in any regime. It's not about communism or capitalism, it's about humans. We all have evil inside, that can take over, and money & power often help that happen.

    Reply

  34. Thank you Communist Party leader Putin! You don't give a [email protected]#& about your own people. Why don't you let the whole world know so the poor people can get some medical and other assistance that your government won't provide.

    Reply

  35. The Russians were so careless with their nuclear programs. The rest of the world will suffer from it many years later

    Reply

  36. I think this one is much more interesting then Chernobyl.
    as they keep so much secret and its older.

    Reply

  37. Fcking dumb Russians playing with nuclear as if they knew what they were doing 😂

    Reply

  38. War games. Too late to apologize, too late for so many actions. Time waits for nobody.

    Reply

  39. Chernobyl was not an accident. Russian KGB agent told an ex prison person that Russia did purpose it to pressure Ukraine together with Russia from Ukraine tried to secede from Russia.

    Reply

  40. Como não se mede a riqueza de um país pela riqueza do rei, não se mede a dignidade pelo governo. Esta mulher é muito corajosa, mostrando quantas pessoas boas sofrem no mundo por causa de regimes totalitários.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *