Russian Federation missile test blast kills 5 nuclear agency staff

Cheryl Sanders
August 11, 2019

Five people were killed and three injured following a rocket explosion on a naval test range in Russian Federation on Thursday, state nuclear company Rosatom confirmed. It was not immediately clear if the five fatalities cited in a Saturday statement by Rosatom were all in addition to the previously reported deaths.

Rosatom was quoted as saying that a further three of its staff had received injuries of varying degrees of seriousness during the accident, including burns.

The BBC asked officials there why, and they said "because this incident comes under the authority of the defence ministry".

Asked if there had been a release of radiation as a result of the incident, a spokeswoman said Rosatom had nothing to add to statements released earlier by the Defence Ministry and regional authorities.

The Russian Defense Ministry had said a fire broke out after a reaction engine exploded on August 8 "when testing a liquid propulsion system".

The ministry said there was no release of radioactivity or any toxic substances, but the local administration in Severodvinsk about 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) east from Nyonoksa reported a brief increase in radiation levels. No official explanation has been given for why such an accident would cause radiation to spike.

A Russian city reportedly observed a rise in radiation levels after an explosion at a nearby military testing site, which left at least two dead.

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

A view shows an entrance checkpoint of a military garrison located near the village of Nyonoksa in Arkhangelsk Region, Russia October 7, 2018.

USA -based nuclear experts have said they suspect the blast and radiation release could have occurred during the testing of a cruise missile that used nuclear propulsion.

The military had not initially said that the accident involved nuclear equipment, but said that radiation levels were normal afterwards.

Russia's Rosatom corporation has stated the explosion that took place in northwestern Arkhangelsk Region on Thursday happened on a sea platform during a missile test due to a variety of factors.

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.

Other reports by iNewsToday