That transformation began May 15, 1992 when a presidential decree established that Kazakstan’s National Nuclear Centre, based on the research facilities of the former Semipalatinsk test site, would be established in the town. The decree launched the national radio-ecological research programme and allowed the centre to contribute to the country’s economy.
Another landmark in the recent history of Kurchatov was President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s April 4, 2003 state-of-the-nation address announcing the establishment of the Nuclear Technology Park (NTP) in Kurchatov.
Today, the park is working on producing radiation-cross-linked foam polyethylene and heat shrinkable rings and tapes as part of the Industrialisation Map for the East Kazakhstan region. A facility to treat materials for radiation, sterilise medical and food items and for radiation crosslinking of the polymer insulation of cables is also under construction.
In the country’s programme to develop its mono-towns, Kurchatov is defined as a scientific-industrial centre with average growth potential. A 2013-2015 comprehensive development plan for Kurchatov calls for landscaping, support to enterprise, construction of social facilities and utilisation of the town’s scientific potential.
A National Centre of Complex Dosimetry and a facility to process and store radioactive waste and sources of ionising radiation from nuclear and other industrial enterprises are also planned. The facilities will improve the radiation situation in Kazakhstan by reducing the harmful effects of radioactive substances and recyclable waste on the population and environment.
Kurchatov schools and early education centres are also being built or repaired as part of the country’s mono-towns development programme. Construction of a landfill for industrial waste, better street lighting and improved street landscaping are also underway.
Kurchatov is well known abroad and visited by scientists and international figures, such as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano.
The town, which has an average monthly wage of 98.8 thousand tenge (US$541), also has tourism potential. Kurchatov Mayor Dmitry Garikov said at a recent briefing that the radiation-safe territory of the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site is ready to receive visitors.