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Author`s name Michael Simpson

Do Tatars Have to Live In Radioactive Dumps? - 22 November, 2002

It is strange that the government takes no interest in people living in contaminated territories
Forty five years ago, an accident at the Mayak enterprise in the Chelyabinsk region resulted in an outburst of  radioactive waste, which poisoned the water and the land in a radius of many kilometers around the accident site. Many people suffered from the accident. Over 200 settlements vanished from the face of the earth, and thousands of people were removed from their homeland. As it turned out later, not all people were resettled from  the contaminated area. Tatars are still living in some of the villages and settlements in the contaminated area.

It is strange that the government took no interest in the people remaining there, but these people have been living in  contaminated territories for decades. The settlement of Tatarskaya Karabolka suffered from the tragic accident most of all; since that tragic day, its population has been reduced from 4,000 to 640 people, and 80% of them suffer from cancer.  There are eight cemeteries around the settlement. The only aid the authorities render to the people of the settlement is a 30 ruble (roughly one USD) compensation for their funerals. However, it is unbelievable that officials consider this sum  enough for anything at all. Some time ago, special payments were made to people who helped neutralize the accident at the Mayak enterprise. But later, the authorities decided to save the cash and removed the item on the payments from the budget. Those who still live in the contaminated settlement demand that Tatarskaya Karabolka should be recognized as an area that has suffered as a result of the catastrophe. They also want the cash payments to resume

Duma deputies from the Yabloko Party have developed an amendment to the state budget for the next year and submitted it for consideration of the parliament. The main point of the amendment is that villagers from Tatarskaya Karabolka must be relocated to a safer place. The cost of the plan is 10 million rubles. A special report was sent to the RF EMERCOM to explain the necessity of this amendment. A response to was given on November 11. Russian EMERCOM Minister Sergey Shoigu stated: “At present, there is no evidence proving any harm to the health of the people still living in that area that  was affected by  the accident at the Mayak enterprise in 1957. This also  concerns the villagers from Tatarskaya Karabolka. That is why, the RF EMERCOM has no reason to back the suggestion of the deputies to resettle these people and provide budgetary financing for the removal.”

Unfortunately, Tatarskaya Karabolka is not Russia’s only radioactive contaminated territory where Tatars are living. There is a research institute for nuclear reactors in the city of Dimitrovgrad, in the Ulyanovsk region, close to Tatarstan. Radioactive waste from the reactors are buried in a special nuclear-waste disposal, which is quite close to a geological stress point. The number of  people with cancer  in a village situated right above the area is abnormally high. The geological stress point is located from Dimitrovgrad to the territory of Tatarstan. There is every reason to believe that nuclear wastes from the disposal may get into the territory of the Tatarstan republic and cause much harm there. And the situation may get even more dramatic if the Russian Ministry of Nuclear Energy begins the realization of plans for the importation and burial of spent nuclear fuel on  Russian territory. The wastes will be poured into the same disposal; fuel obtained as a result will be burnt at nuclear power plants (by the way, it is deadly for the environment and for the personnel of nuclear power plants).  It is highly likely that two such places will soon appear  near Tatarstan: one will be on its territory and another is being constructed in the neighboring republic of Bashkiria. Wastes will stream down to the Kama River. All eastern areas of Tatarstan will suffer from the consequences of the nuclear plant’s work.

The settlement of Tatarskaya Karabolka, the Dimitrovgrad nuclear-waste disposal, and other similar instances reveal that the RF Minister of Nuclear Energy takes no account of ordinary people’s interests. With a view to gain more profits, the Ministry is building more and more nuclear plants, and it is even ready to turn Russia into the world’s nuclear dump. Officials don’t care that this harms  local populations. What is more, although nuclear objects are apparent targets for terrorisit attacks, the ministry is saving money on  the protection of the dangerous objects. And if tragedies occur, like it the one in Tatarskaya Karabolka, officials ignore the lives of ordinary people who fall victims to such tragedies.

The Yabloko faction is going to persist in the promotion of its amendment to the federal budget for 2003, saying that the families from the settlement of Tatarskaya Karabolka must be resettled. However, the deputies need active support of the Russian population in order to guarantee that tragedies of this kind will never occur in the future. If  the population of Tatarstan actively protests against the construction of nuclear objects on its territory and in neighboring regions, they will be able to protect the planet from a nuclear catastrophe and save the Earth for the generations to come.  


Konstantin Dorokhin
Vecherniye Chelny newspaper

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