Russia is evacuating civilians in the area of Nyonoksa village in the far northern region where a nuclear-powered experimental rocket exploded during tests last Thursday, which had killed seven, Interfax reports.
So far it appears a “recommendation” and not an ordered evacuation, which officials advise should be accomplished by Wednesday, after radiation levels in the vicinity of Severodvinsk spiked to 20 times normal last week in the blast’s aftermath. The local governor is insisting its not an “ordered” evacuation but is merely highly recommended.
Russian media reports say authorities are offering for a train to take Nyonoksa residents to safety, which might be due either to further clean-up and decontamination of the site or possibly to conduct some kind of new test. Work is still reportedly being carried out on the rocket engine that exploded.
Russia belatedly admitted on Monday that the mystery explosion which released radiation into the air last Thursday, triggering warning alerts across towns near the northern port cities of Arkhangelsk and Severodvinsk, involved a “small-scale nuclear reactor”.
Also on Monday President Trump tweeted concern over the radiation leakage, saying, “The United States is learning much from the failed missile explosion in Russia.” He added concern over the “air around the facility” which area residents have been exposed to and could possibly impact neighboring areas.
Local footage last week showed emergency personnel responding to the accident in full chemical/radiation protective suits.
Arkhangelsk: video showing hazmat team checking medical evacuation helicopter with some devices (likely geiger counters). Helicopter arrived with wounded in explosion at military site near Nenoksa https://t.co/2doM9rVaHl #Russia pic.twitter.com/2kAMjsAQv1
— Liveuamap (@Liveuamap) August 8, 2019
Severodvinsk officials within a couple days after the accident claimed radiation levels had “normalized” amid a reported run on iodine pills and general civilian resident panic in the vicinity of the site. There were also unconfirmed reports that local citizens had been issued instructions to take precautions to prevent radiation exposure.
Though within two days following last Thursday’s accident – believed to have happened on a sea platform, which resulted in an area of a White Sea port being shut down – Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom, admitted it had been testing an “isotope power source in a liquid propulsion system,” there’s since been increasing confirmation that the explosion involved a cutting edge hypersonic cruise missile.