The Building That Gave Its Residents Leukemia

Nov 1, 2023 3 comments

Building number 7 on Gvardeytsiv Kantemirovtsiv street (now known as Mariyi Pryimachenko Street) in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, was the most recent addition to the block. Equipped with an elevator and running hot water, this apartment complex exuded a level of luxury not commonly seen in Soviet-era residential buildings.

The first family moved in in 1980. They couldn’t have asked for more. It was arguably among the finest apartments in the city. However, their enjoyment was short-lived. 

Just a year after moving in, their 18-year-old teenage daughter was diagnosed with leukemia and died within a few months. The family had barely recovered from the tragedy when their 16-year-old son caught the same dreadful disease and passed away shortly after. This was followed by another death—their mother and the third victim of leukemia.

Cursed building No. 7 on Mariyi Pryimachenko Street. Photo credit: Artemka/Wikimedia Commons

The family wondered if the apartment was cursed, but the story of the mysterious affliction did not receive a wider audience, and the doctors chalked up the disease to poor heredity. The family soon moved out, and the city executive committee gave the keys to the apartment to another family.

In 1987, tragedy struck the residents again. Their teenage boy died from leukemia, and his younger brother was in critical condition in the hospital. The distraught father pushed for an investigation.

It wasn’t until two years later that authorities were convinced enough to send a team of investigators with a dosimeter. They discovered high level of radiation in the apartment. The radiation level in the room where the children slept, in particular, were off the chart. The investigators eventually discovered that the radiation was coming from the walls. The residents of the building were quickly evacuated and the wall was dismantled. The chunk of concrete was sent to the Kyiv Institute for Nuclear Research where scientists extracted a small capsule containing the highly radioactive Cesium 137, the kind used in radiation level gauges.

From the serial number engraved in the capsule, it was established that the item had got lost in a quarry from which gravel was sourced for the construction of the apartment. By a terrible chance, the capsule became mixed with concrete and became lodged inside the walls between apartments 85 and 52, close to the beds of the children, resulting in a tragedy that led to the loss of four lives. Eventually, seventeen other people were recognized as having received varying doses of radiation and were treated accordingly.

Building 7 still stands today and people still live in it. The radiation level has now returned to natural levels.

More radiation accidents:
The Radiological Incident in Ciudad Juárez
The Radiological Incident in Lia, Georgia
The Goiânia Radiological Accident

# Man-made radiation can kill entire families, Chornobyl Research and Development Institute
# Radiological accident in Ukraine (Kramatorsk), 1980-1989, Security and Non-Proliferation Journal


  1. Never read about this before. Thanks for the interesting information. 👍

  2. Russia... what can I say... not much different today.

    1. To be honest, that's in Ukraine, but since that was the times of soviet occupation, we can call it Russia, actually.. And, true, not much different today, probably even worse, considering recent war.


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