Muslim Kazaks pray in memory of the dead in the mosque in Semipalatinsk. On 29th August 1949 the first Russian plutonium bomb was exploded at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, which came to be known as 'The Polygon'. This first detonation was followed by more than 500 nuclear explosions, both atmospheric and underground. The effects in the Semipalatinsk region have been devastating. According to the UN more than 1.2 million people have been contaminated or are living in severely contaminated areas. Of these over 100,000 suffer from radiation related diseases. Even though testing stopped in 1989 the situation is continuing to deteriorate. Two out of every three children born in the region suffer from genetic defects.