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Novaya Zemlya: a sad true story
SAVEPECHORA > архивные статьи газеты "Экологический вестник Припечорья"
Novaya Zemlya: a sad true story  
[1 декабря в 19:50]
Our northern nature and the people who live here have become defenseless against the military ambitions of the nuclear generals.
And all this is about Novaya Zemlya which took up 94% of the total capacity of all the nuclear explosions on the territory of the Soviet Union during the «cold war». The article on the Novaya Zemlya and the indigenous people who became hostages of the "nuclear shield" was published in the "Ecological Bulletin of Pripechorye" in 2009.

"EDEY YA - THE EARTH OF OUR ANXIETY" 1 part, 2009.
50 five years ago the Soviet government decided to establish the main landfill in the Arctic archipelago of Novaya Zemlya for testing nuclear weapons. And up to now Edey Ya as the Nenets call Novaya Zemlya remains the most closed and secret object on the territory of our state. The brainchild of "the cold war", "object-700", "archipelago NZ" being today’s area of death still continues to frighten people.

The nuclear shield of the country was "forged" on the Arctic lands for 40 years. For those purposes 3 underwater, 43 underground and 86 atmospheric explosions were set off on the lands of the Northern archipelago. And although there were two nuclear test sites in the USSR - Semipalatinsk (in Kazakhstan) and the "object-700" (just a step away from the Nenets district) - Novaya Zemlya took up 94% of the total power of all nuclear explosions on the territory of the Soviet Union during the "the cold war". Such an enormous load was not known by any of the former and existing polygons of the world.

According to the data from the observation stations of the USSR Goskomgidromet (State Committee of Hydrometeorology) only after the tests conducted by the military from 1960 to 1962 in Novaya Zemlya the level of radioactive fallout in the territory of the Nenets District and some other northern territories increased by 2-3 times.

The maximum density of radioactive fallout was observed in 1962 when the total amount of performed tests equaled 79 explosions. The largest and close to critical beta activity exceeding the permissible level by 11 thousand times was observed at that time in the territory of Vaigach, Amderma and Kara tundra.



NONE WILL BE THE WISER?
The dumping of nuclear waste at the bottom of the Kara and Barents seas is also an issue of particular concern. According to the "White Paper" (1993), in the water of the Kara Sea flooded approximately
11, 090 containers with nuclear waste and nine thousand of them were buried in the sea with vessels,
13 reactors from nuclear submarines were buried with spent nuclear fuel,
there are three reactors from the nuclear-powered ship "Lenin" at the bottom of the Kara and Barents seas
the ship Nikel loaded with 18 nuclear-waste containers was flooded near Kolguev Island.

According to the Bellona research most of these containers are in an critical condition today being broken down when exposed to the sea water. The military will fail to “hide the ends in the water” painlessly and inconspicuously. The results of their "secret" activities we will be receiving for hundreds of thousands years. Yes, they have already retired feeding their children and grandchildren with radioactive fish poisoned radionuclides from flooded reactors and containers. And they eat it, too. If they are still alive.

RADIATION WITH NO COLOR AND SMELL
Our northern nature and people who live here have become defenseless against the military ambitions of nuclear generals. Since 1954 Novaya Zemlya had been under military control; since 1992 despite the existing moratorium it has been granted the status of the Central Test Site of the Russian Federation.

It is unlikely that anyone today would dare to challenge the truth that the flag of defending the interests of the state is not always a boon for people living in this state and the interests of individuals completely are very often crossed in the name of the highest idea. No sane person if he/she were a patriot even 1000 times would agree with the fact that he/she, their relatives, their children and grandchildren could become hostages of the "nuclear shield" of the state which did not even consider it to be necessary to inform what kind of water people drink, what kind of fish and meat they eat, on what soil, finally, they try to grow potatoes to feed their families.

It was the thesis of the conference report "Environmental problems of the Arctic" (Arkhangelsk, October 1992) where it was written: "The nature of the Arctic zone appeared to be the most sensitive to radioactive fallout. It was revealed that the level of radioactivity in the food chain "lichen-reindeer-man" was more than 10 times higher than the background indicator.

The radiation factor in the region is caused by the presence of long-lived radionuclides of cesium-137 and strontium-90". As a result - a sharp decline in the health of the population of the Nenets District and certain areas of the Arkhangelsk region. Here are just some of the data from 20 years ago research of the Radiology Research Institute of St. Petersburg and Arkhangelsk: "There’s a concentration of indicators in the Nenets Autonomous District which can be connected with the radiation effect. In particular, the structure of the causes of infant mortality has a high proportion of congenital anomalies. The analysis of the dynamics of diseases in the district for a number of years revealed the growth of neoplasms, cardiovascular and mental diseases. The percentage of oncological diseases has increased by 5 times. In the late 1980s, deaths from esophageal tumors in Naryan-Mar and the district exceeded the national average factor by 20 times. Mortality from blood diseases has increased by 40%".

According to the scientists the main reason for this alert situation is the destruction of the bio-environment caused by the nuclear tests conducted on Novaya Zemlya earlier.

According to the statistics of recent years: "Over the past decade the morbidity of the population in the Nenets Autonomous District has increased by 30%. Mortality among the Nenets population has increased by 40%. Children are four times more likely to have congenital anomalies. Diseases of the endocrine system increased by 2.5 times, cardiovascular anomalies – by 2 times, skin diseases – by 2 times". Whatever state officials may say this is nothing more than a "victory" of the state over its own people. After all whenever arguments arose whether to have or not to have nuclear tests on Novaya Zemlya the invariable argument of the military sounded as there was no better place for a nuclear test site as the archipelago was removed to a safe distance from a densely populated center.

They simply did not take into account the fact that there, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, people were living. As they said it was necessary to sacrifice someone for the greatness of the country. And they chose us. The Soviet Union doesn’t exist anymore but we still continue to pay with our health - for its former greatness, for the golden stars on the lapels of the general’s uniforms.

There were 132 explosions during 40 years of the history of nuclear tests on Novaya Zemlya. Former beautiful cultural and historical monument was turned into an archipelago of death.

DUTCHMEN CALLED IT THE LAND GIVING LIFE
Many years ago the very name of this island meant life; it was that saving continent where tired travelers could find shelter from storms and ice hummocks of the Arctic. It was an island of salvation for many ships: Russian, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, and English ones shipwrecked in the "severe milky ocean".

And every time Europeans, who came to this mysterious, majestic island, admired its beauty and wealth. There in those old times, according to the memoirs of Protopriest Peter Smirnov, there was the main Samoyed idol, called Vesako. It stood nobly surrounded by 20 stone statues being a keeper of these mysterious places. Nobody can say exactly for how many centuries this stone statue protected the island but in the XVIII century this sanctuary of the ancient Samoyeds was completely destroyed by the mission of Benjamin.
Nevertheless the stone guri in human growth serving as a kind of beacons-landmarks for our distant ancestors, returning or leaving Novaya Zemlya remained the monuments of the first settlers of Edey Ya. The mysterious island sung in the works of Pisahov, in the canvases of the artist Borisov, Tyko Wylka, in the research manuscripts of Sedov and Rusanov, preserved monuments of later eras on its land for many decades.
One of such an example is a memorial plate installed on the Oranskiye Islands of Novaya Zemlya in honor of the arrival of the Dutch expedition of Willem Barents in 1594. Probably no one will answer what its fate is today as well as the question where now the memorial cross and the astronomical point of the Sedov’s expedition are located.
Novaya Zemlya was the homeland for many Nenets. Till now grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the compelled immigrants still consider this to be their native land. 104 families were removed from the island after making a decision to open a landfill. They were forever deprived of their homeland but even now living on Kolguyev, in Naryan-Mar or Krasny, the former newcomers yearn for their forever-lost Edey Ya.
Eastern proverb says: "What trouble if you have lost freedom and honor! But there is nothing worse than a loss of Motherland!”. And as the Nenets poet Yuri Vella wrote about this:
"To whom shall I, survived today, address my misfortune? Rivers, lakes and seas have been tortured."


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