Russia has acknowledged that the blast at the missile launch base in the Far North had a nuclear character and increased the casualty rate to five deaths.
In a statement, Russian nuclear agency Rosatom announced that five members of their staff were killed in the blast and that three people were burned.
Rosatom specified that his staff provided technical support “for the isotope energy source” of the missile’s engine, while the military did not mention nuclear fuel as part of the accident.
Rosatom’s statement, which was cited by several Russian media outlets, stated that the accident occurred on a naval platform and that several workers were dumped overboard during the explosion.
“We were looking for them while there was hope that we would find them alive. We have now announced that five Rosatom associates have been killed,” the statement said.
Immediately after the crash, the Ministry of Defense stated that an explosion occurred while testing the engine of a liquid-propelled missile and that two experts succumbed to injuries. On Saturday, it was unclear whether the five dead cited by Rosatom and two experts were reported dead.
Authorities have so far released little details about the accident at a base in the village of Nionoksa, opened in 1954, which specializes in Russian fleet missile tests and, in particular, ballistic missiles. Russia’s military and a deputy regional governor said Thursday there was “no radioactive contamination”, but the city administration of Severodvinsk, a city with 190,000 residents 30 kilometers from the base, said on its website that a “short-term increase in radioactivity” was measured.
The announcement was then taken from the city hall’s website, which did not specify to what extent radioactivity had increased.
Civil protection worker Valentin Magomedov told TASS that the level of radioactivity had increased to 2.0 microsivers per hour for 30 minutes, while the permitted exposure limit was 0.6 microsivers per hour.
On Saturday, Greenpeace Russia published a letter from the nuclear research center that brought the same values, but they lasted at least one hour, which still does not pose a health hazard.
The residents of Severodvinsk made stock of iodine used to reduce the effects of radiation exposure.
The most serious nuclear accident in history occurred in 1986 at the Soviet Union at the Chernobyl Ukrainian Headquarters. Authorities were then accused of trying to cover up the extent of the disaster for several weeks.