Ozersk map: Where is Ozersk? (Image: DX)
Ozersk’s inhabitants were told they were “the nuclear shield” and “saviours of the world” and they were treated accordingly.
While the rest of the Soviet population suffered from famine and poverty, City 40 was a paradise.
Residents lived in private apartments with luxury food such as caviar on offer and the best schools and healthcare the Soviet Union could provide.
This was a sinister deal put together by Joseph Stalin in Moscow. He was prepared to treat Ozersk’s residents in exchange for their secrecy and loyalty.
Ozersk has the appearance of an eerie ghost town (Image: WIKICOMMONS)
Barbed wire fencing situated around Ozersk (Image: WIKICOMMONS)
Remarkably, that deal is largely still in place.
As Samira Goetschel explains, City 40 residents believe they are “chosen ones” and that life in the forbidden city is prestigious.
They claim they are intellectuals who “get the best of everything for free”.
Ms Goetschel notes that this “has had deadly consequences” as the Kremlin has frequently withheld the impact of extreme exposure to radiation on the health of the city’s inhabitants.
She writes: “While accurate data is not available thanks to the authorities’ extreme secrecy and frequent denials, the gravestones of many young residents in Ozersk’s cemetery bear witness to the secret the Soviets tried to bury alongside victims of the Mayak plant.”
City 40 has witnessed a number of nuclear incidents ‒ including the 1957 Kyshtym disaster, the world’s worst radioactive accident prior to Chernobyl.
And Ms Goetschel claims that one of the nearest lakes to the Mayak plant is so heavily contaminated with plutonium that locals call it the “Lake of Death” or “Plutonium Lake”.
She adds that half a million people in and around Ozersk have been exposed to five times more radiation than those living near the Chernobyl plant, in Ukraine.
Today, while foreign visitors are essentially locked out, local residents are only permitted to exit the city with a special pass.
Ms Goetschel is an award-winning filmmaker based in the US.
She is the producer and director of the City 40 documentary and spoke to The Guardian in 2016.