HBO’s reconstruction of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster has gripped audiences, but less is heard about Russia’s closed nuclear City 40 secret. Ozyorsk, code named City 40 was built in total secrecy around the huge Mayak nuclear power plant by the Soviets in 1946. Like Chernobyl, City 40 was designed as a place to house the scientists working at the plant who – unbeknownst to the world – were leading the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons programme. At first, officials swore City 40 residents to secrecy, telling them they were “the nuclear shield and saviours of the world,” and everyone on the outside was an enemy. From the late 1940s, those living in Ozyorsk started to get sick because of long-term exposure to huge doses of radiation from the plutonium production site. Things only got worse in 1957 as City 40 experienced a radioactive contamination accident at Mayak, known as the Kyshtym disaster. The disaster was the world’s worst nuclear accident before Chernobyl and the authorities at the time kept it a secret from the outside world. Thousands of people were exposed to huge doses of radiation which will undoubtedly cause cancers and other health problems in years to come.
Daily Star 12th June 2019 read more »