Poisoned Waters

VLADIMIR VELENGURIN for TIME

VICTIMS: A patient is treated in Chelyabinsk where locals continue to suffer the ill effects of long-term radiation exposure

The road from Chelyabinsk to Kasli is straight, well-paved and stippled with radiation signs nailed to the slender birches along the roadside. The signs warn visitors that "mushrooming, gathering berries and herbs and fishing" are banned. But one kilometer outside Kasli, 120 km north of Chelyabinsk, a pink-cheeked roadside vendor is illegally selling freshly caught carp from the trunk of a battered Zhiguli sedan. As is so often the case in modern-day Russia, no one is exactly sure what the law is — and it is frequently ignored anyway. What is certain is that the fish, said to be caught in...

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