Five staff of Russia’s nuclear corporation Rosatom were killed and three suffered serious burns in the blast during a test of a liquid-propellant engine that resulted in a brief spike of radiation around the military testing site.
The Rosatom engineering and technical team was working on the ”isotope power source” for a propulsion system on Thursday, when the accident happened. The blast resulted in a brief background radiation spike, which quickly returned back to normal.
“As a result of the accident at the military firing range in Arkhangelsk during liquid reactive propulsion system tests, five employees of the state corporation Rosatom were killed,” the company said. Three military and civilian specialists remain in serious condition, but their injuries are “not life-threatening,” a source in the regional emergency services said.
The testing site is located some 30 kilometres from the city of Severodvinsk, which is home to a major base of the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet.
Measurements immediately after the incident showed radiation levels three times above the safe limit of 0.6 microsieverts for around half an hour. City authorities said this posed little risk for the population, as the daily average remained within set norms. Rescue services were placed on high alert nevertheless.
“We are monitoring [the radiation levels] around the clock. Over the last 24 hours, no change was witnessed,” Severodvinsk’s city administration said Friday. Soil, air and water samples examined by a team of scientists lead by the federal Consumer Protection agency also found no abnormal radiation readings.