Kazakh doctor to speak on radiation effects of nuclear testing by former Soviet Union

by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer

On July 3, a planning committee comprised of the Hiroshima Semipalatinsk Project, a Hiroshima-based citizens' group represented by Keiichi Sasaki, and other organizations, will hold a citizens exchange meeting with Dr. Nailya Chaizhunusova, 58, the deputy director of the Research Institute of Radiation Medicine of Ecology, located in the city of Semey in the Republic of Kazakhstan. The Chugoku Shimbun spoke with Dr. Chaizhunusova on current conditions in Semey, formerly known as Semipalatinsk, where the former Soviet Union repeatedly conducted nuclear tests.

It has been 20 years since the last nuclear test was conducted in Semey. What effects from the radiation emitted by the nuclear blasts have been seen on the residents there?
Many people are speaking out about the damage that has been done to their health. They suffer from multiple diseases, including heart disease, thyroid disease, and cancer. Investigation into the true effects of the radiation became possible once Kazakhstan became independent in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In order to track the health conditions of the citizens there, we have created a database in cooperation with the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) and other institutes in Hiroshima. The number of people registered in the database is about 160,000, a fraction of the estimated over one million people who were exposed to the radiation. Of those registered in the database, over 80,000 have already died. Many of them passed away without receiving sufficient treatment.

What made you decide to take part in the citizens exchange meeting?
I suspect that many people in Hiroshima, especially young people, know little about the damage caused by nuclear tests even though their city was destroyed by an atomic bomb. I hope my speech will help to increase the number of people who are aware of the damage caused by radiation.

As long as nuclear weapons exist on the earth, radiation damage can continue to occur. This is not only an issue that affects Hiroshima or Semey. We have an obligation to create a world where no more victims of radiation are produced.

The citizens exchange meeting will be held at Hiroshima City Plaza for Town Development through Citizen Exchange, a center for citizens' activities in downtown Hiroshima, on July 3 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. A speech by Dr. Chaizhunusova and discussion are planned for the meeting. Admission is free.

(Originally published on July 2, 2010)


Dr. Nailya Chaizhunusova
Dr. Nailya Chaizhunusova was born in 1952. She graduated from I.M. Sechenov First Moscow Institute of Medicine, now the I.M. Sechenov Moscow Medical Academy (MMA). Dr. Chaizhunusova served as a visiting professor at Hiroshima University Research Institute for Radiation Biology and Medicine for one year from 1994. She now lives in Semey.


Semipalatinsk nuclear test site
The Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in the former Soviet Union was located 150 kilometers west of Semey. The site had an area of roughly 18,500 square kilometers. The Soviet Union held its first nuclear test in 1949. Until 1989, nearly 450 nuclear tests were conducted, including those in the atmosphere.

(Originally published on July 2, 2010)

Related articles
Hiroshima University's Research Institute for Radiation Biology and Medicine (RIRBM) becomes joint research hub (April 1, 2010)
Interview with Professor Masaharu Hoshi: 60 years since the first nuclear test in former Semipalatinsk (Aug. 31, 2009)