What used to be the boundary between nuclear testing and the rest of the world, where even dedicated Soviet citizens could not cross over, is now a broken down fence, a relic of the cold war. (John van Hasselt/Corbis via Getty Images)

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The Lasting Impact Nuclear Testing Leaves Behind

A remote area of Kazakhstan was once home to nearly a quarter of the world’s nuclear testing.

Kazakhstan was once home to nearly a quarter of the world’s nuclear testing. Decay and desolation now scar the remote corner of the country. Unnatural lakes were formed by nuclear bomb explosions and empty shells of buildings sit on the once flat terrain. The nuclear testing program was stopped nearly 30 years ago, but the area — and its inhabitants — continue to deal with the devastation the program caused. Many residents remained in the area during the nuclear testing program. Photograph Phil Hatcher-Moore spent two months documenting the region. His project, “Nuclear Ghosts,” connects the wasted landscape and intimate portraits of villagers still suffering the consequences. Some 100,000 people in the area are affected by radiation, which can be transmitted down through five generations, writes National Geographic. Moore’s pictures show the tangible proof of that.

I met Kapiza last February, in a small village deep in the #Kazakh #Steppe. The land was frozen, and it was bitterly cold outside. Kapiza was born 12 years before the Soviets tested their first #nuclear bomb in the #Semipalatinsk Test Site, dubbed the #Polygon. Her village is on the edge of the test site, and during the #ColdWar, when nuclear tests were taking place here, villagers were instructed to come out of buildings. Now, hundreds of thousands of people are thought to be affected by the legacy of the Polygon. I spent several weeks there over the past year, exploring the effects of the nuclear tests on the people and the environment here, thanks to the @fondationyvesrocher grant. Tonight, they will announce this year’s laureate at @visapourlimage. Good luck! And if you’re in #Perpignan this evening, a screening of my work from #Kazakhstan will be presented as part of the festival. @leica_camera

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Read the full story at National Geographic