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Radiological Consequences of Nuclear Testing for the Population of the Former USSR (Input Information, Models, Dose, and Risk Estimates)

  • O. A. Pavlovski
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (volume 35)

Abstract

This autumn it will be 45 years since the early August morning in 1949 when the first Soviet nuclear device was exploded at the Semipalatinsk Test Site (STS). At a solemn banquet on that occasion, the head of the Governmental Commission at STS, Lavrenti Beriya, asked Igor Kurchatov, “What name did we give to our device?” Quickly Kurchatov answered, “RDS-1.” “What does that mean?” asked Beriya again. “Russia! Doing! Itself!” replied Kurchatov, and all those present began to applaud, as they were certain that the “Master” (Joseph Stalin) had okayed the name. This was the birth of a new nuclear power and marked the first day of a large-scale military confrontation between the USA and the Soviet Union. In 1952 the U.K. started nuclear testing, followed in 1960 by France and in 1964 by China. The total number of atmospheric nuclear tests between 1945 and 1980 was 423 [UNSCEAR, 1982]. The recent UNSCEAR report [UNSCEAR, 1993] cites a new figure: 520 atmospheric nuclear explosions (including 8 underwater). However, the total yield remained at the level of 545 Mt: 217 Mt from fission and 328 Mt from fusion (Table 1 [UNSCEAR, 1982]). A major part of fission and fusion energy was released before August, 1963, when the Partial Test Ban Treaty was concluded. After that date only 10.8% of fission and 2.7% of fusion energy were released to the atmosphere by France and China. All the nuclear powers switched to underground nuclear-explosion programs. The estimated number of this type of nuclear tests conducted in the period from 1957 to 1992 is 1,352 explosions with a total yield of 90 Mt [UNSCEAR, 1993]. As a rule, a well-contained underground nuclear explosion results in a minimal release of radionuclides into the atmosphere. However, other radioactive materials were released to the atmosphere as a consequence of uncontained underground nuclear explosions (for example, excavation underground tests under the Plowshare Program in the U.S. and similar programs in the USSR or an abnormal radiological situation after an underground explosion) and led to local or regional environmental contamination.

Keywords

Nuclear Test Internal Dose External Dose Life Span Study Excessive Absolute Risk 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • O. A. Pavlovski
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Nuclear SafetyAcademy of Sciences of the Russian FederationMoscowRussia

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