Radioactive isotopes released by missile test blast: Russia

MOSCOW, Russia on Monday said radioactive

isotopes were released in a recent accident at an Arctic missile test site

that caused widespread alarm as authorities kept details under wraps.

The August 8 blast killed five scientists and caused a spike in radiation

levels but for several days Russia did not admit nuclear materials were

involved.

The accident released swiftly decaying radioactive isotopes of strontium,

barium and lanthanum, media reported, citing tests by the Rosgidromet

national weather and environmental monitoring agency.

Alexander Uvarov, editor of the independent AtomInfo.ru news site, said the

isotopes did not pose a threat to the population.

These isotopes are products of nuclear fission of uranium, he told RIA

Novosti news agency.

But Greenpeace Russia said the weather agency's figures contradicted

earlier statements from Rosatom, the national nuclear agency, adding there

could be a health risk.

It called on authorities to release full data on radioactive contamination

in the area.

Sensors in the nearby city of Severodvinsk detected radioactive elements

with a half-life ranging from a few hours to up to 12.8 days and break down

into radioactive inert gases, Rosgidromet said.

These inert radioactive gases were the cause of a brief increase in

radiation levels, it said.

The monitor said earlier that its sensors in Severodvinsk measured

radiation levels that were up to 16 times higher than background levels after

the explosion, returning to normal after two-and-a-half hours.

Russia's Rosatom nuclear agency has said that its specialists killed in the

accident were developing new weapons and providing support for a missile

with an isotope power source.

Norway's nuclear safety authority said it detected tiny amounts of

radioactive iodine in a region bordering Russia after the blast while it

could not determine if this was related to the accident.

The Russian authorities have confirmed that a doctor involved in treating

the injured had a trace of radioactive isotope caesium-137 detected in his

muscle tissue, while denying this was related to the accident.

The Kremlin on Monday declined to comment on the report of radioactive

isotopes. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: This should be done by experts.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)