The Most Horrific Nuclear Test Site In History [Warning Graphic Content]
Following the end of WWII, the United States and the Soviet Union dived headfirst into a nuclear arms race which became the Cold War. The United States began a period of nuclear testing at the Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific and in New Mexico which was hardly their proudest moment. On the other hand, the Soviet Union did not show the kind of restraint their American counterparts did when testing in an area more commonly known as “The Polygon.”
When the Soviet Union began testing nuclear weapons of their own they chose an area called Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan. Soviet officials claimed that Semipalatinsk was uninhabited but in actuality it home to a population of roughly 1.5 million people. It is still up for debate whether they were ignorant of the population or if it was done deliberately without regard for the inhabitants. A total of 456 nuclear weapons tests were conducted over a period of 40 years from 1949 until they were finally halted in in 1989.
The most horrific result of these nuclear weapon tests were the effects they had on the nearby civilian populations. All over Kazakhstan there was evidence of birth defects, increased cancer rates, suicides four times that of nearby areas all of which clearly linked to the nuclear contamination.
What is even worse is that Soviet authorities worked to conceal the effects of radiation on Semipalatinsk from the public in a massive cover-up. To this day people in the area are still suffering from the decades of nuclear radiation and it is unknown if the environment will ever return to normal.
Stories takes a closer look at The Polygon nuclear testing site in this short film, be warned there is graphic content.