reveals the untold legacy of the Soviet Union’s extensive Cold War nuclear testing program at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan. Over 600 nuclear bombs were detonated at the formerly secret site, known as “The Polygon”, from 1949 to 1991, including 116 above ground explosions.
The massive mushroom clouds were witnessed by hundreds of thousands of nearby unprotected Kazakh villagers, unaware that nuclear fallout was raining down on them, their land and water.
More than 18,000 square kilometers remain heavily contaminated. The radiation silently devastated three generations who have suffered serious health problems, including thyroid disease, cancer, birth defects, and more. Life expectancy in the region is seven years less than the national average in Kazakhstan.
The full impact of radiation exposure was hidden by Soviet authorities, and only came to light after the test site was closed in 1991 after major protests.
The tragic story is told in part by the villagers themselves, including Bolat Baltabek, a teacher and town leader, who lost his sister, brother, son, and countless neighbors to radiation-related diseases.
Shot over 3 years, The Polygon
revisits the history of these tragic Cold War experiments, and profiles the unfortunate victims that remain today, still suffering with little or no compensation, or global recognition of their plight.
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