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  • The use of the V-9 (Karachai) and V-17 (Staroye Boloto) reservoirs for the storage of medium-level liquid radioactive wastes

  • The creation of the man-made reservoirs of the Techa Cascade for the storage of low-level liquid radioactive wastes

  • Windborne dispersal of radioactive sediments from the exposed shoreline of the Karachai Reservoir (1967)

The fundamental problems associated with Mayak’s ongoing activities are linked to the use for technical purposes of eight industrial reservoirs at the enterprise to store liquid radioactive wastes accumulated as a result of defense program operations (see Figure 12-1).

To ensure that thorough and comprehensive measures are taken to make Mayak’s production activities environmentally safe, a comprehensive plan has been developed to address environmental problems associated with the enterprise’s current and past operations.

The essence of this effort lies in implementing the following four-part program:

  1. Reducing and ultimately halting discharges of all liquid radioactive wastes into industrial reservoirs

  2. Eliminating the most radiologically hazardous reservoirs—Karachai (V-9) and Staroye Boloto (V-17)

  3. Ensuring the safe operation of the Techa Cascade of reservoirs

  4. Reducing the volume and radioactivity level of the high-level wastes stored in holding tanks

Each of these problems merits separate consideration. The problem of the Techa Cascade is of the highest social significance.


Problems associated with reservoir safety, particularly for the reservoirs of the Techa Cascade, have been substantially exacerbated by changes in climate conditions in the region. Since the early 1980s, the region has experienced wetter conditions (disparity between annual precipitation and evaporation from bodies of water), and as a result, water levels in most of the reservoirs, including those of the Techa Cascade, have approached regulatory maximums.

For example, an analysis of water balance components for Reservoir V-11, the final reservoir in the cascade, indicates that the primary reason for the rise in its level since 1980 is the change in meteorological conditions in the region (see Table 12-1). Whereas from 1950 until the 1980s, the average level of evaporation in the Mayak region exceeded precipitation by 100 mm per year, the situation

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