Stories: Nuclear Test Sites

  • New High-Tech Laboratory in Kazakhstan to Fight Plague Outbreaks

    In a dusty suburb near Almaty, Kazakhstan, where the Soviet-era buildings still hint at a different time, a slice of high-tech modernity has arrived—in the form of a $102 million biosecurity laboratory. The Central Reference Laboratory (CRL) will open in 2015 and offer high-security lab space for scientists to study dangerous diseases and provide early warning of potential outbreaks. ...

  • Glowing Greens

    By most accounts, the former Soviet nuclear test site of Semipalatinsk is unfit for life. Across roughly 7,000 square miles of barren Kazakhstan steppe, there are hardly any people. Even animals and birds, it seems, intuitively know they should stay away. Decades-old craters pockmark the earth, remnants of the more than 450 nuclear explosions that took place here between 1949 and 1989. Broken vodka...

  • Scarred Landscapes of Kazakhstan’s Nuclear Test Site

    Few know nuclear dangers quite like the Kazakhstanis. While famed for its apple orchards, Kazakhstan has struggled to shake off its image as the Soviet Union’s nuclear bomb testing site. In the northeastern area of Semipalatinsk, the Soviet Union detonated more than 450 nuclear devices until its collapse in 1991. In August, a group of 10 media professionals—supported by...

  • Fifty Years After Above-Ground Blasts, a Sense of Calm at Kazakhstani Nuclear Site

    It’s been a half-century since the last atmospheric nuclear test was conducted at the Semipalatinsk Test Site. In the years since, the grass has grown back to cover craters created by the explosions. There are even some wildflowers. But the desolate beauty and quiet sense of peace here is belied by the reality that approximately 10 percent of...