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Russia Says Small Nuclear Reactor Blew Up in Deadly Accident

PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:55 am
by seemslikeadream
Russia Says Small Nuclear Reactor Blew Up in Deadly Accident
The failed missile test that ended in an explosion killing five scientists last week on Russia’s White Sea involved a small nuclear reactor, according to a top official at the institute where they worked.

The institute is working on small-scale power sources that use “radioactive materials, including fissile and radioisotope materials” for the Defense Ministry and civilian uses, Vyacheslav Soloviev, scientific director of the institute, said in a video shown by local TV.

The men, who will be buried Monday, were national heroes and the “elite of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center,” institute Director Valentin Kostyukov said in the video, which was also posted on an official website in Sarov, a high-security city devoted to nuclear research less than 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Moscow.

The blast occurred Aug. 8 during a test of a missile that used “isotope power sources” on an offshore platform in the Arkhangelsk region, close to the Arctic Circle, Russia’s state nuclear company Rosatom said over the weekend. The Defense Ministry initially reported two were killed in the accident, which it said involved testing of a liquid-fueled missile engine. The ministry didn’t mention the nuclear element.

Radiation Spike

It caused a brief spike in radiation in the nearby port city of Severodvinsk, according to a statement on the local administration’s website that was later removed. The Russian military said radiation levels were normal but disclosed few details about the incident.

News of the explosion set off in nearby cities and towns a run on iodine, which is believed to help prevent the thyroid gland from absorbing radiation. Norway said it had stepped up radiation monitoring after the incident but hadn’t detected anything abnormal.

Southerly winds and the large distance between the border and the explosion make it unlikely that Finland will detect any radiation, Pia Vesterbacka, director at Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, said by phone Monday. The authority hasn’t checked its air filters since the incident but expects to have results this week, she added.

Rosatom declined to comment on the incident Monday and a spokeswoman for the Sarov institute couldn’t immediately be reached.

Russian media have speculated that the weapon being tested was the SSC-X-9 Skyfall, known in Russia as the Burevestnik, a nuclear-powered cruise missile that President Vladimir Putin introduced to the world in a brief animated segment during his state-of-the-nation address last year.

The incident comes after a series of massive explosions earlier last week at a Siberian military depot killed one and injured 13, as well as forcing the evacuation of 16,500 people from their homes. Russia’s navy has suffered numerous high-profile accidents over the years. In July, 14 sailors died in a fire aboard a nuclear-powered submarine in the Barents Sea in an incident on which officials initially refused to comment. A top naval official later said the men gave their lives preventing a “planetary catastrophe.”

Russia’s worst post-Soviet naval disaster also occurred in the Barents Sea, when 118 crew died on the Kursk nuclear submarine that sank in after an explosion in August 2000. ... socialflow

Re: Russia Says Small Nuclear Reactor Blew Up in Deadly Acci

PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 9:59 am
by seemslikeadream
What We Know About Russia’s Mysterious Rocket Explosion So Far
one hour ago

At least five nuclear experts have been killed in a mysterious explosion during a rocket engine test at sea in northern Russia four days ago.

Officials have been slow to release information about Thursday’s blast, which led to a radiation spike in a nearby city and sparked heightened demand for iodine.

U.S.-based nuclear experts said they suspected the explosion occurred during the testing of a nuclear-powered cruise missile touted by President Vladimir Putin last year.

Here’s what we know about the explosion so far:
What happened?

— The rocket's fuel caught fire, causing it to detonate and knock several people into the White Sea, the state nuclear agency Rosatom was quoted as saying by the state-run TASS news agency.

— Officials in the nearby city of Severodvinsk said radiation had briefly spiked without saying how high, but their statement was taken down on Friday without explanation. Regional media reported that local residents had begun stocking up on iodine, which is used to reduce the effects of radiation exposure.

— Authorities said after the incident they had shut down part of a bay in the White Sea, although public shipping information from the port of Arkhangelsk showed the area had been closed for the preceding month. It did not say why.

What are the authorities saying?

— The involvement of nuclear workers was acknowledged for the first time by Russia's state nuclear agency Rosatom on Saturday. It said three of its staff members have been hospitalized.

Russia Holds Memorial Service for Nuclear Workers Killed in Mysterious Accident
— On Monday, Rosatom CEO Alexei Likhachev said staffers at its affiliate nuclear center died during testing of an unspecified “new special diesel.” Likhachev added that Rosatom will “finish” works on new weapons systems without specifying what weapons he was referring to.

— In a video interview published late on Sunday, Russian officials at the nuclear research institute where the scientists had worked said the accident had caused a twofold rise in radiation levels that had only lasted an hour.

— Meanwhile, Russia’s consumer watchdog branch in the Leningrad region has assured St. Petersburg residents that radiation levels are “stable.”

What is the media reporting?

— St. Petersburg’s news website quoted a video statement by one of the leaders of the nuclear center as suggesting that the blast occurred at a “compact nuclear reactor.”

— Fontanka later updated its report with a statement from Rosatom which said that the suggestion referred to “tests of a radioisotope power supply,” not a “reactor.”

“It’s a nuclear battery, just so you understand,” the state nuclear monopoly was quoted as saying.

Moscow Acknowledges Mysterious Rocket Explosion Involved Nuclear Workers
— Vyacheslav Solovyev, one of the officials at the institute in the closed city of Sarov, said: “These developments are also actually happening in many countries. The Americans last year...also tested a small-scale reactor... Our center also continues to work in this direction.“

— Russian media have said the rocket engine explosion may have occurred at a weapons testing area near the village of Nyonoksa. Those reports say an area near Nyonoksa is used for tests on weapons, including ballistic and cruise missiles that are used by the Russian Navy.


— Rosatom named the five nuclear experts as Alexei Vyushin, Evgeny Koratayev, Vyacheslav Lipshev, Sergei Pichugin and Vladislav Yanovsky. The agency released the five experts' photos to the RBC news website on Monday.

— As many as six other staff members were injured and transported by plane to Moscow to be treated for radiation exposure, the Baza Telegram channel reported. The workers were brought from the airplane to a Moscow hospital in vehicles wrapped in film, the Telegram channel added. Rosatom has said that three people were injured in the blast.

— The experts, who worked for the center based at the closed city of Sarov, have been put forward for state awards, officials said, without specifying which honors they might receive.

— The Sarov city administration announced two days of mourning, saying Sunday the experts died while "performing a task of national importance." Russia held a memorial service for the five scientists on Monday. ... far-a66817