|CHELYABINSK-40 or OZERSK is a closed administrative territorial unit (CATU) with federal subordination. |
The date of foundation is November 9, 1945 – the day when major-general Rapoport signed the order, regarding creation of a special building district N11 and immediate clean-up activities for construction of a top secret establishment: a plant producing plutonium, between the towns Kasli and Kyshtym.
The following settlements are situated on the territory of Ozersk: Novogorny, Metlino, Tatysh, Bizhelyak, the villages Selezni and New Techya. The lakes Irtyash, Big Nanoga and Small Nanoga surround the town.
Because of secrecy, postal address of the town was changed many times. At first it was Chelyabinsk-40, later Chelyabinsk-65, since 1994 – Ozersk.
The same concerns the enterprise: at first it was called “Base-10”, later “Mendeleev State Chemical Works”, “Chemicals industrial complex “Mayak”, since 1989 – “Production association “Mayak”.
The town Chelyabinsk-40 together with production association “Mayak” (translated into English, it means “Beacon” or “Lighthouse”), were the firstlings of the Soviet nuclear industry. Plutonium was the basis of the Soviet A-bomb. That is why, organization of large-scale production of plutonium for Soviet nuclear warmongers became a priority task and the first industrial complex producing plutonium was build in South Ural.
Thus, a secret establishment under the letter “A” – industrial nuclear reactor, appeared near Kyshtym. Enriched uranium was produced there. Construction of the nuclear reactor was started in 1947, and it had to reach its planned production capacity in June of 1948. However, because of engineering malfunctions, already functioning reactor was stopped for emergency repair, and the activation was postponed till March of 1949. In the meantime, construction of industrial complex was going on. Near the establishment “A”, unit “B” – radiochemical works, where plutonium was extracted from uranium, was build. And already on the third stage – “C” –production of high-clean plutonium and blasting charge out of it, was organized at chemical-metallurgical plant.
Not far from the industrial complex, a closed atomic town – Chelyabinsk-40 or Ozersk was growing. The life in the town and work at the industrial complex were always connected with high risks. Not many people were thinking about environmental safety then. Nuclear waste was discharged in the local river. People, who lived nearby, did not have a slightest idea about it, and continued to live near the river, contaminated with radioactive nuclides. Though what had happened on September 29, 1957, became a real catastrophe.
One of the largest ecological catastrophes of human kind at the nuclear industrial complex “Mayak” is also known as “Kyshtym tragedy”.
Large amount of water, used for operating of nuclear reactors, was saturated with radioactive and toxic substances and was wasted in special radiological effluents’ storages.
Because of monitoring devices malfunction, ventilation was not turned on and oxyhydrogen gas had accumulated above these storages on September 29, 1957. As a result of the detonation, 80 tons of radioactive mixture had risen in the air, forming above the industrial complex a cloud of strontium-90 isotope. The trail from this cloud made up about 350 kilometers, and was about 50 kilometers wide. Contaminated area in Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk and Tyumen regions made up more than 20 000 square meters. The trail from the cloud went over 4 rivers and 30 lakes, consequently water sources’ radiation level had increased 10-100 times. 124 000 people were exposed to radiation.
A lot of people had seen a strange yellow cloud and a fog that day. Later on, a plain explanation was published in the local newspaper: it was a rare natural phenomenon.
Soldiery and local residents were liquidating the catastrophe. They did not have any protection, not even breathing masks. With the help of bulldozers they were stripping topsoil, knocking off plaster from the buildings and washing away radioactive dust with wet brushes. Only 1.5 years later the industrial complex started operating again.
Later, people were resettled – but only from the most contaminated areas. On various pretexts, about 10 000 people were resettled from the “dead zone”. For example, they were told that oil was found, that is why the village would be demolished.
Of course, during the years of Soviet regime, authorities were keeping silence. Circumstances and consequences of the catastrophe were kept secret. Even doctors were forbidden to diagnose radiation sickness. Nevertheless, doctors were the first to give the alarm.
AT PRESENT DAY, OZERSK has a long existing economics structure, which is characterized by diversified industry, large construction complex, transport, communication, trade and catering, housing and communal services, developed social sphere.
Economy of the town is based on large-scale industrial enterprises and building companies. The industry of Ozersk is presented with such sectors as chemical industry – 87.2%, building materials – 3.4%, machine-building and metal-working – 2.6%, food industry – 5.5%, woodworking industry – 0.9%, light industry – 0.4%.
The Federal State Unitary Enterprise “Production Association “Mayak” still takes the leading place in industrial potential of the town. At present time, “Mayak” services Russian nuclear power plants. “Mayak” is the only enterprise in Russia with a scale production of radioactive isotopes that find a wide application in medicine (radiotherapy), in industry (defectoscopy, etc.), in space exploration (production of nuclear sources of thermal and electric energy), in radiotechnologies. Due to the radiotracer method, isotopes are much in demand abroad. More than 40 countries purchase production of “Mayak”. The whole production line is based here – beginning from reactor and finishing with casks.
Solving of environmental problems also plays an important role in activity of the enterprise: glazing of radioactive effluent, backfilling of the lake Karachai, rehabilitation of polluted territories.
During the last years, due to the own funds and widening of investment, a number of new enterprises appeared on the territory of Ozersk: “EnergopromStroiprotection” OAO (electrical products), production association “Growth of polymers” Ltd. (production of polypropylene and packaging), “South Ural Vodka Distillery” Ltd., “Tsvetmetservice” РРђРћ (nonferrous metal), etc.
6 large-scale building and assembly companies, and a large number of small-scale enterprises, providing construction work and repair-and-renewal operations, are situated in the town.
Small-scale business grows stronger and stronger. According to official statistics, 515 small-scale enterprises (with 9.3% out of all people working in the town) are registered in Ozersk. Besides, about 5 000 businessmen add to economical activity. The largest number of small-scale enterprises falls to the share of trade and human services – 52.8%.
Citizens have the opportunity to attend municipal theater and puppet-show, four palaces of culture, two music schools, two centralized libraries with million strong library stock, two cinemas, and one museum. There are 16 schools of general education, 2 schools with profound study of English language, a grammar school, 4 lyceums, two sports schools, South Ural polytechnic college, Ozersk Technological University, branches of Chelyabinsk and Ekaterinburg universities. There are more than 20 clubs for children, children’s ecological and biological center.
Apart from formation of small-scale business, development of large-scale enterprises and social sphere, the future of Ozersk most likely will be connected with development of nuclear-power engineering.