Russia says radiation levels rose by 4-16 times in city after accident

WNM | Aug 13, 2019 at 10:51 AM

MOSCOW, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Radiation levels in the Russian city of Severodvinsk rose by up to 16 times on Aug. 8 after an accident that authorities said involved a rocket test on a sea platform, Russia's state weather agency said on Tuesday, the TASS news agency reported.

The defence ministry initially said background radiation had remained normal after the incident on Thursday, but city authorities in Severodvinsk in northern Russia said there had been a brief spike in radiation levels.

Greenpeace has said radiation levels rose by 20 times.

Russia's state weather agency, Rosgidromet, said on Tuesday that it believed radiation levels had risen by four to 16 times.

The TASS writes:

The level of radiation in Severodvinsk following the August 8 incident at a military test site was 4-16 times above the natural background, the Russian weather watching service Rosgidromet said on its website referring to the northern directorate for hydrometeorology and monitoring of the environment as its primary source.

“As at 12:00 on August 8, 2019 the Arkhangelsk territorial system of radiation control registered gamma radiation levels 4-16 times above the background rate of the ambient dose equivalent for the given territory,” the report says.

On the day of the incident the chief of the city’s civil defense department Valentin Magomedov said that the radiation background in Severodvinsk was thrice the permissible level (2 microsieverts per hour) for about thirty minutes. The permissible exposure is 0.6 microsieverts per hour. The consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor says the exposure of a patient who undergoes X-ray examination of the digestive system is 3.3 millisieverts per examination.

The science doyen of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Nuclear Safety Institute, Leonid Bolshov, has told TASS there is no risk to the population of the Arkhangelsk Region following the emergency at the military test site. After the alarm a governor-led emergency team involving all services concerned was formed and a statement made there was nothing that might constitute a health hazard. Ninety minutes later the radiation level was back to the natural background.

The incident at a military test site in Severodvinsk, the Arkhangelsk Region, occurred on August 8. The Defense Ministry said without elaborating the incident involving a liquid propellant engine caused two fatalities. In an overnight statement on August 10 the Russian nuclear power corporation Rosatom said the fire and explosion that occurred during the test of a missile on an off-shore platform killed five of its employees. Three others were injured and taken to the hospital.