The compelling realities of Chelyabinsk
|Auteur||John M. Whiteley|
|Classificatie||184.108.40.206/02 (RUSLAND - MAYAK/TSJELIABINSK (incl. ramp Oeral 1957))|
|Opmerking||Paper prepared for the conference "Critical Masses, Public Responses to the Environmental Consequences of Nuclear Weapons Production in Russia and the United States", at the University of California, Irvine, September 1993.|
Uit de publicatie:
Chelyabinsk Oblast is a region the size of the State of Indiana. Located a thousand miles from Moscow east toward Siberia, it was closed to foreigners until early 1992. It has a population of over three million people with a major metropolitan center, the city of Chelyabinsk, with over one million inhabitants. Looking at a map of the Chelyabinsk region , the striking physical feature is the number of lakes, some three thousand, dotted throughout the landscape. That beauty was well captured recently in an announcement of an international children's ecology camp: "The Urals mountain chain stretches along the border between Europe and Asia in the very heart of Russia. The Urals region is not only a geographical reference point, it is a special region of our country with a rich history and unique culture and traditions. The earliest explorers from the European part of Russia started developing the Urals region as long ago as the 16th century. The 18th century saw the start of rapid industrial growth, and our region became a metallurgical canter of the Russian Empire. The Urals, the most ancient mountains on the Eurasian continent, are not high . They do not excite the imagination like the Caucasus or Pamirs, but real treasures lie hidden in their hearts. The Urals region is beautiful in any season: in winter when the ground is covered with a white veil of snow, in summer when the depth of the azure sky competes with the unruffled surface of more than 3000 lakes, in spring when the first greenery appears and forest meadows are strewn with flowers, and in autumn when the frost flames with brilliant foliage in crimson and gold. The invitation went on to describe the broader Southern Urals region as an important scientific, industrial, and cultural center for Russia. But it was beauty to which the text of the invitation returned: "... a picturesque part of the Southern Urals surrounded by ancient mountains covered with beautiful primordial forests. Pine forests and birch groves create not only a sense of inimitable beauty, but also a unique climate. Our (the camp's) guests will enjoy clean , fresh air, gather herbs, mushrooms, and berries, and swim in clear waters of Sungul Lake." By way of sharp contrast, the industrial character of Chelyabinsk City has a very different environmental quality from that around Sungul Lake. Daniel Sneider of the Chrjstjan Scjence Monitor described the urban environment as follows: •Beyond the worn slopes of the southern Ural mountains, the horizon of empty snow-covered Siberian lands is broken only by forests of smokestacks, belching grey smoke into the perpetual twilight. Here, close to the deposits of coal and iron ore and beyond the reach of invaders, Joseph Stalin built the sprawling steel mills and arms plants that were the bedrock of Soviet industrialization. The pre-revolutional settlement of 75,000 hardy souls in Chelyabinsk has grown into a city of 1.2 million, its broader avenues and stolid structures indistinguishable from the other products of assembly-line Soviet urbanism."
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