Severny Uranium Camp

The expedition of the GULAG History Museum to Chukotka in August 2015.

Prisoners of Chaunlag constructed the Severny Camp Facility during the early 1950s.

The camp is located on the Chukotka highlands 60 km away from the city of Pevek, between the Shiroky Stream and the Utiny Stream. A dirt road leads to the camp from the west.

According to prisoners’ memoirs, the Chaunsky Camp was built in autumn 1950. First, prisoners lived in tents, made holes using ammonite, placed poles, and watch-towers, and pulled the wire.

In the spring of 1951, they started constructing stone barracks fragments of which have preserved until today. At the same time, they built a mine with several drifts for the manual transportation of ore in trolleys. A diesel-engine power plant supplied electricity but during the first winter, it did not function, so the prisoners warmed themselves using coal.

In Severny, there was the biggest uranium-field in Chukotka. As a result, there the working conditions were the most difficult. During uranium ore mining and mineral processing, the fine dust was most hazardous since it contained radioactive elements and easily penetrated into the human body.

The camp facility was made up of around 25 separate buildings that are currently ruined. All of the buildings were made of either cobblestones or logs. Besides the capital structures, there were also a number of engineer constructions (mines, piers, and rails) and small architectural forms (watchtowers and stairs) on the territory of the camp facility.

120 meters to the west from the Severny Camp Facility, there is a jail with solitary confinement cells built in 1951-1953. The construction is a one-story rectangular building enclosed with a fence made of barbed wire and wooden poles.

Chaunlag or Chaunsky Corrective-Labor Camp (ITL) of Dalstroy existed from 1951 to 1953. Besides from uranium ore mining, camp prisoners were engaged in geological surveying and road building. The prison population of the camp by 1 September 1951 was 10,941 people and by 19 June 1952 it was 7,274 people.

This video was filmed in August 2015 during the expedition of the GULAG History Museum to Chukotka that was guided by the head of the Museum Roman Romanov. The expedition started in Pevek and led to the uranium camps of Chaunlag – Vostochny and Severny. During the expedition, a large number of exhibits have been collected. In addition, the staff of the expedition conducted aerial mapping, created a 3D panorama, took photos, and shot videos of preserved buildings and the adjacent territory.

Based on the results of the expedition, buildings and structures of the former camps of the Chaunlag of Dalstroy were granted the status of a historical monument. This gives the opportunity for monument conservation and protection of the territory as well as the access for researchers to work there.