Planet Of The Year: The Greening of the U.S.S.R.

As his public cries out for a cleanup, Gorbachev fights a pall of pollution

The Soviet Union is anenvironmentalist's nightmare. The industrial city of Nizhni Tagil, some 700 miles east of Moscow, is sometimes wrapped in clouds of gaseous wastes so thick and toxic that drivers must turn on their headlights at noon and children walking home from school get skin rashes. Every year 700,000 tons of toxic substances are spewed into the city's air. Not only Nizhni Tagil but more than 100 other major cities, including Moscow, also have air-pollution levels ten times as high as the acceptable standards set by the Soviets.

The land and water are not in any better shape. The...

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