Former Nuclear Test Site of Semipalatinsk
The refound radiant childhood of Sarzhal, Kazakhstan 2019
During the Cold War (1947-1991), the Soviet regime carried out 456 nuclear tests at the Semipalatinsk nuclear weapons test site in present-day Kazakhstan. This is about the explosive power of 2500 Hiroshima bombs.
These overground and underground tests were conducted at the expense of neighboring rural populations, with devastating health consequences that affected the genetic heritage of exposed residents and contaminated the environment.
Sarzhal is a village with less than 2000 inhabitants, which lives from the livestock. It is located 20 km from the first craters, due to the explosions, that have become highly radioactive lakes. The climatic conditions are extreme with an amplitude close to 90°C.
The image of generations of children, sometimes deformed from birth or suffering from various types of cancer, has been abundantly shown by the media, creating local and international awareness, which in 1991 led to the closure of the site and a significant improvement of the health of its inhabitants.
For this youth, who no longer wants to suffer from this negative legacy, this photographic rehabilitation project is dedicated.
This work is an assignment of the French Embassy in Kazakhstan.
The presented photo series was realized in February 2019. It will be supplemented by a second stay at the end of June 2019. The in winter inaccessible nuclear weapons test site will be visited in June.
Until today these photos are still unpublished.
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