US NewsNuclear-powered Soviet submarine leaks radiation: researchers
I was a child of Chernobyl
The 1986 Russian disaster isn’t just compelling TV. It was my life. On April 26, 1986, when Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4 exploded, I was a 10-year-old living 60 miles away, in the Soviet Ukrainian city of Kyiv. It was a sunny Saturday, and I had spent most of the day outside, playing with other kids from our apartment building. We squeezed through the wrought-iron gate in the far corner of the courtyard, then scaled a dilapidated wall around an archaeological site at the heart of the Old City.
Norwegian researchers on Wednesday said they have documented a radiation leak from a sunken Soviet-era nuclear submarine.
"We took water samples from inside this particular duct because the Russians had documented leaks here both in the 1990s and more recently in 2007," said Hilde Elise Heldal of the Bergen-based Institute of Marine Research, who led the Norwegian expedition.
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At 100 becquerels (Bg) per liter, the samples showed radiation levels up to 800,000 times higher than the Norwegian Sea's norm. But researchers noted that the increased levels of cesium in the water did not pose a significant threat to ocean wildlife or food products.
"After the Chernobyl accident in 1986, Norwegian authorities set this limit to 600 Bg/kg," said Heldal. "The levels we detected were clearly above what is normal in the oceans, but they weren't alarmingly high."
In the 1980s, the Komsomolets was considered a state-of-the-art nuclear-powered attack submarine. However, it sank in 1989 when a fire broke out on board, killing 42 crew.
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The Komsomolets was carrying two nuclear warheads at the time, which were never recovered. It is unclear whether the radiation leaks stem from its reactor or the warheads.
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