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12 Aug 2019: News24
https://www.rt.com/russia/466238-russia ... a-rosatom/
Russia nuclear accident: Force of the blast threw staff into the sea
The city where Russia's main nuclear research facility is based announced a day of mourning Sunday for five staff killed during a missile test that caused elevated radiation levels.
Russia has said that five nuclear agency staff were killed by a blast during testing of a nuclear-powered missile at an Arctic military facility on Thursday.
The closed city of Sarov in the Nizhny Novgorod region, about 500 kilometres east of Moscow, announced 24 hours of mourning from 10:00 GMT on Sunday with flags lowered and entertainment events cancelled, RIA Novosti state news agency reported.
The decree by the city chief said the five killed were staff of the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre.
The Rosatom nuclear agency said memorial services would be held Monday.
During the Cold War, Sarov was a top-secret city known as Arzamas-16. The centre was the birthplace of the Soviet Union's first nuclear weapons.
Sarov is still a closed city only accessible to those with special passes.
Vladimir Putin visited the nuclear research centre in 2012 while campaigning for president.
Rosatom said the accident happened when a missile was being tested on a marine platform in the far northern Arkhangelsk region.
Fuel caught fire and detonated and the force of the blast threw staff into the sea, it said.
Russia's military in an initial statement said two were killed in the accident and it was not known whether those two deaths were among the five that Rosatom reported.
The nearby city of Severodvinsk reported elevated radiation levels following the accident and panicked residents rushed to buy iodine to counteract radiation.
Professor Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies said his "working hypothesis" was that the blast was related to the 9M730 Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, known by NATO as SSC-X-9 Skyfall.
Putin said in February that tests on the Burevestnik were going successfully.
‘They were thrown into sea as it blew up’: Rosatom gives details of deadly nuke-powered engine blast
Published time: 10 Aug, 2019
The explosion of a secretive isotope-powered missile engine was so powerful that it blew the device into pieces and threw workers off a sea platform, Russian nuclear agency Rosatom said. Searches for the missing went on all day.
Dramatic details of the tragedy that rocked the Arkhangelsk region this week, and that fueled western tabloids with rumors of a new Chernobyl-like disaster, were shared by the state atomic energy corporation on Saturday.
It revealed that the blast, which killed five employees and seriously injured three others, took place on a sea platform and followed a series of trials.
The test of the classified “liquid-propellant engine” went smoothly at first, but then the device caught fire and blew up, Rosatom said.
Water in high latitudes is ice-cold even in summertime, but search attempts lasted the whole day, until hopes faded. Only then were the five operatives declared dead.
Three more workers have been hospitalized with various traumas and burns. The agency lauded the work of the employees, who, it said, were well aware of the dangerous nature of experimental engine tests.
The five who perished had been working on an “isotope power source” for a propulsion system. An increase in background radiation was registered on the test site, but the measurements are said to have soon returned to normal.
The city of Severodvinsk, located some 30km east of the test range and hosting a key shipyard of Russia’s Northern Fleet, added fuel to rumors after authorities posted –and then deleted– news of a brief radiation spike to 0.11 microsieverts per hour, with the norm standing at 0.6. The report said that it lasted for half an hour only, and the daily average wasn’t seriously affected.
The secrecy surrounding the ill-fated test inevitably gave rise to conspiracy theories.
Pictures of hazmat teams taking measurements and specially-prepared ambulances transporting the injured were used to support some panic-inducing media headlines, while tabloids speculated over the type of weapon involved in the test.
However, rumors of a serious radioactive cover-up have not been supported on the ground, and neighboring Finland has not registered any deviations from normal levels. The Russian military has, meanwhile, refuted a report that a Rosatom vessel, capable of collecting radioactive waste, was dispatched to Severodvinsk, saying it had actually been undergoing scheduled trials.