Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

Russian nuclear agency admits role in fatal explosion which released radiation

Nearby pharmacies have reported a run on iodine since the incident

The explosion occurred at a military garrison near the village of Nyonoksa. Reuters
The explosion occurred at a military garrison near the village of Nyonoksa. Reuters

Russia’s nuclear agency has confirmed an explosion which killed at least five people and caused a spike in radiation occurred during rocket testing on an offshore platform.

Thursday’s explosion took place at a military shooting range near Nyonoksa, in the north-western Arkhangelsk region when the rocket caught fire after the test, causing it to detonate. The explosion threw several people into the sea, nuclear agency Rosatom said.

Rosatom confirmed five staff deaths on Saturday, adding that three others had suffered burns and other injuries.

It was not clear if the five reported fatalities were in addition to the deaths of two military personnel reported by Russia’s defence ministry last week. Neither agency provided details on whether the deaths were owing to the impact of the explosion, drowning or radiation exposure.

“On behalf of the huge team of Rosatom, we express our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims,” a company statement read.

“Their families will be assisted and supported.”

On Thursday, authorities in Severodvinsk recorded a spike in radiation for 40 minutes reaching a high of two microsieverts per hour, then falling back into the normal range at 0.11 microsieverts.

Two microsieverts is not enough radiation to cause illness. Following the incident, the neighbouring towns of Arkhangelsk and Severodvinsk experienced a run on iodine. The chemical can reduce the effects of radiation exposure, particularly to the thyroid, during or after exposure.

"Everyone has been calling asking about iodine all day," a pharmacist told 29.Ru, a media outlet that covers the Arkhangelsk area.

Authorities have restricted shipping in the area of the accident site for a month.

The Nyonoksa explosion is the second fatal incident involving Russia’s military in a week.

Last Monday, a blaze at an ammunition dump killed one and injured eight on a military base in Krasnoyarsk district in Siberia. On Friday, nine others were injured during the clean-up from the blast, which caused 9,500 nearby residents to be evacuated from their homes.

“A shell exploded, wounding five servicemen and damaging a vehicle during work on de-mining and eliminating the consequences of the emergency situation in Kamenka,” local authorities in Krasnoyarsk said.

Updated: August 11, 2019 02:39 PM

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