Nuclear cleanup on coast of White Sea

Video footage from a beach near weapon testing area Nenoksa shows helicopters, excavators and men in protection gear involved in the removing of radioactive debris from last month’s nuclear accident.
September 23, 2019

A helicopter fly in over the beach of Nenoksa and put large metal containers on the shore. Four people dressed in special clothes remove materials from one of the two barges that have been abandoned on site following last month’s nuclear accident.

An excavator move the dangerous scrap into the containers and helicopters subsequently fly it all away.

It was the first part of a clean-up process on site, Region29 reports. The news agency has obtained exclusive video footage that shows how the beach of Nenoksa is being cleaned up after the explosion in nearby White Sea waters.

It is unclear where the containers were being taken, Region29 reports.

While the men onboard the barges carry special protection suits, the driver of the excavator appears not to wear any special gear, the video materials show.

The beach is located in the immediate vicinity of the local weapons testing site. Nearby is also several local villages with a population of several hundred people. The White Sea coast is among the most densely populated areas in the Russian North, and Severodvinsk, the closed military town, has about 190 thousand inhabitants. The regional capital of Arkhangelsk has about 310,000.

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Local journalists in early September made it to the beach and checked radioactivity on site. They found a number of objects that emitted the dangerous particles.

Radiation levels

It was in the morning of 8th August that the blast happened at Nenoksa naval missile testing site about 25 kilometres northwest of Severodvinsk by the White Sea.

State nuclear power company Rosatom soon confirmed that the accident happened at a «military training site in the Arkhangelsk region.» Five representatives of the company died in the accident.

Russia’s Defense Ministry was early stating that there were no releases of radioactivity.

However, regional news portal 29.ru reported with reference to Roshydromet that radiation levels exceeded normal background in between 6 to 16 times on Thursday. Six out of eight monitors in Severodvinsk showed gamma radiation values higher than normal.

Meanwhile, city authorities in Severodvinsk were told to unpublish the news about a spike in radiation levels, peaking at 2 µSv/h, which is nearly 20 times normal background.

“Burevestnik”

The authorities have given a muted response to the explosion, seeking to quiet public fears. Four of Russia’s nuclear radiation monitoring stations went silent days after the explosion, and doctors in the region have said they were not warned that they would be treating patients exposed to radiation.

The secrecy surrounding the accident has led outside observers to speculate that what the explosion involved the Burevestnik nuclear-powered intercontinental cruise missile, dubbed the SSC-X-9 Skyfall by NATO.

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