Last Updated: October 1, 2009
Other Name: Galit facility
Location: Dengiz Rayon, Atyrau Oblast, bordering Urda Rayon, Western Kazakhstan Oblast[1]
Subordinate To: N/A
Size: N/A
Facility Status: Non-operational

From 1966 to 1976, 24 underground nuclear explosions were conducted here. Some of the explosions were conducted to test nuclear weapons; others were conducted to create underground reservoirs in salt domes of the Caspian Depression for the storage of liquid and gaseous fuel supplies. [2] In late 1994, the Southern Seismological Station, which managed nuclear explosions, ceased its activity and Russian guards left the site in March 1996. [3] The Azgyr test site houses a laboratory for the synthesis of super strong materials, which includes the Yava-1M installation for producing artificial diamonds. [4]

In spite of more than 35 years without conduct a nuclear explosion at the Azgyr polygon, research taken by M.K. Amrein and A.A. Baimukhamedov in 2012, proved that the earlier nuclear explosions seriously damaged the region’s ecosystem, and that now there is a high health risk from using chemically contaminated water from the region. [5]

Sources:
[1] Smantay Tleubergenov, Poligony Kazakhstana (Almaty: Gylym, 1997), p. 481.
[2] Information provided to NISNP by the Kazakhstan Atomic Energy Agency, 26 October 1996; "Territoriya Byvshego Yadernogo Poligona Azgir v Kazakhstane Bezopasna, Polagayut Spetsialisty, "Interfax-Novosti, 7 August 2001. 
[3] "Kazakhstan: Call For End to Russian Military Tests," Kazakhstanskaya pravda, 11 December 1996, pp. 1,5; FBIS-SOV-96-252.
[4] "Information Section," Yadernyy kontrol, April 1995, p. 7.
[5] M.K. Amrein and A.A. Baimukhamedov, “Риск здоровью населения от химического загрязнения воды в регионе полигона ‘Азгыр,’” [Health Risk of the Population from Chemical Polution of the Water in the Region of the Poligon “Azgyr”], Kazakhstan National Medical Unversity, 2013.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.