Kyshtym mountain

Mount Yegoza (607 meters), one of the mountains in the lowly populated rural area surrounding Kyshtym in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia.

The locationEdit

It was in Kyshtym, just outside Mayak in the Ural Mountains region. The Mayak plant was built in haste between 1945 and 1948 and Soviet scantiest then knew little about nuclear technology back then! 

The Kyshtym (Urals Mountains) disaster is known by several names including East-Ural Radioactive Trace, Kyshtym disaster, Urals Mountains disaster, Mayak disaster and the 1957 Soviet atomic disaster.

The 1957 accidentEdit

It was a major event that the military plant poisoned a large part of the local landscape for the next few years.

A cooling system failed the waste reprocessing facility caused a liquid waste storage container exploded. The sudden steam explosion with a bast force equivalent to 70-100 tons of TNT.

About 70 to 80 metric tons of highly radioactive material were carried into the surrounding environment and after 10 hours radioactive cloud spread over the Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk, and Tyumen Oblasts over 23,000 km².

The impact on local population is still not fully known, but at least 22 villages were reported as being affected with deadly doses. 200 people died of excessive cancers in the region and several towns and villages were abandoned for decades and in a few cases for ever.

It was a Level 6 INES Scale event.

The British Windscale reactor fire happened in the same year and that plant would also be hit by 5 Sellafield incidents over time. The Chernobyl disaster was the USSR's worst atomic accident.

The 1967 accidentEdit

Karachay Lake which lay on the territory of the Mayak facility was used for open-air storage of radioactive liquids radioactive wastes. As a result an area of approximately 1,800 km² was contaminated with radionuclides and silt were whipped in to the air as a strong wind crossed the banks of the shallow lake. The same victim area got a second radioactive contamination hit.

It has no offical INES rating, but it was probably a Level 6 INES Scale event.

East/West diplomacyEdit

Both the USA and USSR were scared witless by both the 1957 incident and the later 1961 Goldsboro B-52 crash, so they held a summit on atomic power station safety, atomic waste storage safety, nuclear weapons safety and post-disaster co-operation later in 1961.

Also seeEdit

  1. Atomic accidents and disasters
  2. Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant accidents
  3. The Windscale reactor fire and 5 Sellafield incidents
  4. Three Mile Island accident
  5. Corporate malfeasance at the Peach Bottom Nuclear Generating Station
  6. Chernobyl disaster


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.