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This article is about the island. For the album by folk metal band Arkona, see Vozrozhdeniye.
Vozrozhdeniya Island, also known as Rebirth Island (Uzbek Tiklanish orollari; Russian Остров Возрождения), is a former island, now a peninsula, in the Aral Sea. It became a peninsula in 2002, due to ongoing shrinkage of the Aral Sea.  It is now shared by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Located in the central Aral Sea, Vozrozhdeniya Island was one of the main laboratories and testing sites for the Soviet Union government’s Microbiological Warfare Group. In 1948, a top-secret Soviet bioweapons laboratory was established here. Word of the island's danger was further spread by Soviet defectors, including Ken Alibek, the former head of the Soviet Union's bioweapons program. It was here, according to just released documents, that anthrax spores and bubonic plague bacilli were weaponized and stored. The main town on the island was Kantubek, which lies in ruins today, but once had approximately 1,500 inhabitants.
The laboratory staff members abandoned the island in late 1991. Many of the containers holding the spores were not properly stored or destroyed, and over the last decade many of the containers have developed leaks. As the Aral Sea continues to recede, the area will eventually connect further with the surrounding land. Many scientists fear that animals will move to the surrounding land and eventually carry these deadly biological agents out.
Brian Hayes, a biochemical engineer with the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, led an expedition in the spring and summer of 2002 to neutralize what was likely the world's largest anthrax dumping grounds. His team of 113 people neutralized between 100 and 200 tons of anthrax over a three-month period. The cost of the cleanup operation was approximately $5 million.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Vozrozhdeniya_Island". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|