Kazakhstan to Establish Semipalatinsk Nuclear Safety Zone

ASTANA – Kazakhstan plans to create a nuclear safety zone at the former Semipalatinsk test site and surrounding territories exposed to excess radioactive contamination, following the law “On the Semipalatinsk nuclear safety zone” signed by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on July 5, reported the Akorda press service.

Photo credit: unikaz.asia.

With a mission to ensure nuclear and radiation safety, the area is created to rehabilitate the territory of the former nuclear test site for a gradual return of its lands to economic turnover.

A comprehensive environmental survey and state environmental expertise will determine contaminated sites, where the specialized zone will be established.

In addition to creating and rehabilitating the zone, the law envisages limiting the spread of radioactive contamination, collecting, placing and disposing radioactive waste on the test site, and continuous monitoring of the level of radioactive contamination.

The President also signed the law “On introducing amendments and additions to some legislative acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the issues of the Semipalatinsk nuclear safety zone, ecology and electric power industry.”

The Soviet Union conducted more than 450 nuclear tests from 1949 until 1989 at the Semipalatinsk polygon in the eastern part of Kazakhstan. 

In 1989, an anti-nuclear movement called Nevada-Semipalatinsk was initiated by poet and social activist Olzhas Suleimenov with a mission to close the Semipalatinsk test site and to inspire other nuclear countries to follow this example.

In 1991, First President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree on the closure of the polygon. 

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