Majak from Swedish producer Daniel Wiklander will take you deep into the radioactive zones of Chelyabinsk.
The Chelyabinsk Oblast countryside at the foot of the Ural mountains is as pretty as pastoral landscapes go, the river Techa flows through green farmlands. It is also extremely toxic. At the beginning of the Cold War nuclear arms race, the plutonium plant at Mayak used water from the Techa to cool its reactors. The contaminated water was then discharged back into the river, which tens of thousands relied on for their drinking water.
Some 40 villages along the river were evacuated. The farmers in the villages close to the river still bury their dead with alarming regularity.
After the Soviet nuclear authority stopped dumping radioactive waste in the Techa they started using lakes in the area. At lake Karachay, they created the deadliest place on earth – stay one hour on its shore, and you will be exposed to enough radioactivity to kill you. Slowly.
During droughts in the late sixties, winds spread radioactive dust from Karachay, contaminating an area of 1,000 square miles. Today, the lake is filled with concrete to contain the radioactive waste. To this day, Mayak is in operation as a reprocessing plant for nuclear waste.