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Muslyumova Radioactive Sludge Removal

Location:
Muslyumova, Russia
Region:
Eastern Europe & Central Asia,
Pollutants:
Radioactivity
Source:
Nuclear
Transmission:
water, soil, air
Potentially affected people:
124,000

The problem

Muslyumova is located 30 km downstream from the Mayak Chemical Combine on the banks of the River Techa. It was the village most exposed to the Combine's unregulated radioactive discharges from 1949-1956. People living in this town were exposed to 240 millisievert (mSv) between 1950 and 1951 and in 1956 people received an average dose of 350 mSv (maximum exposure level 1mSv=100 mrem).

Health Impact

Records show patients suffering from chronic radiation disease. The rates of leukemia have doubled, skin cancer rates quadrupled and an increased incidence of cancer of the digestive system, bones and lungs has been observed. The town population also suffers from higher rates of prematurely born babies, miscarriages and 30% of the babies are born with physical disorders or defects. There are estimates that 50% of the men and women of child-bearing age are sterile.

Current Activity

Blacksmith Institute funded a local NGO to remove the contaminated soil and safely dispose of it in areas registering high radiation doses.

Outcome

The highly radioactively contaminated riverbanks and sediments of the village swimming hole have now been cleaned up. A spill from the Mayak plutonium facility in the late ‘60s released four times the amount of radioactivity into this river as was released by the Chernobyl accident. 98 percent of the population suffers from chronic and genetic diseases. The riverbank and sediment still showed very high levels of radioactivity, and Blacksmith funded a local partner to dig and remove these soils, and replace with clean soils. The radioactive soils were deposited in a safe place away from human contact, and covered again with clean soil.

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