The Kyshtym disaster, sometimes referred to as the Mayak disaster or Ozyorsk disaster in newer sources, was a radioactive contamination accident that occurred on 29 September 1957 at Mayak, a plutonium production site for nuclear weapons and nuclear fuel reprocessing plant located in the closed city of Chelyabinsk-40 (now Ozyorsk) in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union.
The disaster was the second worst nuclear incident (by radioactivity released) after the Chernobyl disaster. It measured as a Level 6 disaster on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES), making it the third highest on the INES (which ranks by population impact), behind Chernobyl (evacuated 335,000 people) and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (evacuated 154,000 people) which are both Level 7 on the INES. At least twenty-two villages were exposed to radiation from the Kyshtym disaster, with a total population of around 10,000 people evacuated. Some were evacuated after a week, but it took almost two years for evacuations to occur at other sites.
The disaster spread hot particles over more than 52,000 square kilometres (20,000 sq mi), where at least 270,000 people lived. Since Chelyabinsk-40 (later renamed Chelyabinsk-65 until 1994) was not marked on maps, the disaster was named after Kyshtym, the nearest known town.