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Secret nuclear rocket explosion in Russian port city kills 5

PortandTerminal.com, August 10, 2019

Emergency officials reported a spike in background radiation after secret rocket explosion in Russian port city of Severodvinsk

MOSCOW – Five people were killed in an explosion during tests on a military site in northern Russia, the country’s state nuclear agency Rosatom said today.

The accident on Thursday happened during the testing of a liquid propellant rocket engine at a missile test site in the northwestern region of Arkhangelsk in the port city of Severodvinsk.

This latest incident comes just one month after a fire aboard a secretive military nuclear submarine killed 14 people and prompted criticism of the Russian Defense Ministry.

What happened?

Russia’s nuclear energy agency has said an explosion that caused radiation levels to spike in the Arkhangelsk region was caused by an accident during a test of an “isotope power source for a liquid-fuelled rocket engine”.

The White Sea bay where both the shipbuilding port and the regional capital Arkhangelsk is located has been ordered closed for swimming and fishing, due to the presence of toxic rocket fuel.

The explosion caused radiation levels to rise for about half an hour in Severodvinsk, contradicting official ministry of defence claims that there had been no rise in radiation levels. Severodvinsk removed a statement confirming the spike in radiation levels from its website, saying the ministry was managing the response to the incident.

While local officials urged calm, residents in several cities stocked up on iodine, which is often used to limit the effects of radiation exposure.

“People started to panic. Within a matter of an hour, all the iodine and iodine-containing drugs were sold out,”

Pharmacist Yelena Varinskaya

Russia also closed a bay in the White Sea to civilian traffic for a month, driving speculation that either the water had been contaminated or that a search operation was being launched.

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