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Facts About the Kyshtym Disaster With AM-Soviet Nuclear II-Disaster

July 19, 1992 GMT

KYSHTYM, Russia (AP) _ Here are some facts about the Kyshtym disaster of Sept. 29, 1957:

The cooling system failed in a tank where radioactive waste from the Chelyabinsk-65 nuclear complex was stored. The explosion equaled 5 to 10 tons of TNT and contaminated 217 towns and villages.

Officials told some residents there had been an accident, but did not mention radiation.

In the ensuing year, 10,700 people were evacuated. Officially, there were no casualties, but some residents say the radiation claimed many victims.

Only in 1989 did residents learn they had been exposed to radiation: The government released details about Kyshtym and the dumping of radioactive waste from Chelyabinsk-65 into nearby lakes and reservoirs between 1948 and 1951.

Officials at Chelyabinsk-65 maintain there are no links between radiation exposure and the residents’ health, but physicians in Kyshtym and nearby Kasli, which was in the fallout’s direct path, believe there are.

Doctors in Kasli report a very high death rate, a falling birth rate and an increase in cancer and birth defects.

They say children have the same symptoms as children in such contaminated areas as Chernobyl or Semipalatinsk: The children are weak, cannot concentrate and suffer a host of illnesses, including a tenfold increase in anemia..

The mortality rate in the Kasli area is 14.2 and the birth rate is 11.8 per 1,000, so the population is declining. Infant mortality is average, but 44 percent of infant deaths are from birth defects, including some extreme deformities.

In the last five years, the number of cancers has increased to 332.2 per 100,000 people, compared to the Russian average of 303. Cancer deaths have increased to 280 per 100,000, compared to the Russian average of 202.