“Really Frightening”: Trees Dry Up and Toadstools Vanish in Karelia After Explosion near Severodvinsk

“Really Frightening”: Trees Dry Up and Toadstools Vanish in Karelia After Explosion near Severodvinsk
Guberniya Daily
August 22, 2019

Residents of Karelia’s Kem District have sounded the alarm. Tree in the district have turned yellow and mushrooms have disappeared after the explosion near Severodvinsk, they claim.

“Ten days after [the accident], the vegetation on the islands in the White Sea near the settlement of Rabocheostrovsk took on a very unhealthy appearance. I get the impression the trees, grass, and moss burned flamelessly. Even toadstools and fly agaric, habitues of these locales, have disappeared on the islands. I would like you to clarify whether any tests will be made, what the republic’s government plans to do in general in response to this issue, and how people’s health will be affected,” a user identified as “Irina Kudryashova” wrote in a letter to Karelian Governor Arthur Parfenchikov, which she also posted on the VK wall “City of Kem Public Oversight.

Kudryashova posted the following photos to back up her claims. She also posted a short video entitled “Yak Island Today August 18, 2019.”

In the same thread, someone identified as “Galina Ivankova” wrote that she was “really frightened.”

“Some men from Belomorsk went out to sea, but when they got to Shuyiretskoye there were warships at anchor there and a yellow cloud overhead. They got turned back: they weren’t allowed to go out into the sea. So welcome to Chernobyl Karelia. Thanks to the mad nuclear scientists,” a person identified as “Oleg Bachanov” wrote in another discussion on the same wall.

“The situation is the same on Yak Island: everything withered and dried in no time. In recent years, especially after 2009, I have noticed that, from the north and the northeast, all the woods and grass on the islands look as if they have been covered in brown paint. There are no berries or mushrooms in these patches,” replied a user identified as “Sandro Avtushenko.”

On August 8, a liquid rocket propulsion system exploded during testing on an offshore platform in the Arkhangelsk Region. Eight Rosatom employees [sic] were hurt; five of them were killed. Fearing radiation, residents of Severodvinsk and Arkhangelsk made a run on iodine in pharmacies.

After the explosion, radiation levels were sixteen times higher than normal in Severodvinsk. Higher levels of background radiation were also recorded in Norway a week after the blast.

Translated by the Russian Reader. NB. The original text was heavily edited to reflect the fact that the claims cited in the article were made by four discrete users on a VK community wall in Kem, Republic of Karelia, not by an indefinitely large number of “residents.”

areaThe area of Northwest Russia, encompassing parts of the Republic of Karelia and Arkhangelsk Region, discussed in the article. Image courtesy of Google Maps

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Putin Says No Radiation Threat from Recent Explosion, But Mum on Details of Accident
The Associated Press (via CBC News)
Aug 21, 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted Wednesday that a recent deadly explosion at a military testing site in northwestern Russia hasn’t posed any radiation threat, but he remained coy about the circumstances of the mysterious incident.

Speaking after talks in Helsinki with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Putin emphasized that neighboring nations haven’t recorded any spike in radioactivity.

“These are the objective data,” he said. “These things can be tracked.”

The Aug. 8 incident at the Russian navy’s range in Nyonoksa on the White Sea killed two servicemen and five nuclear engineers. It was followed by a brief rise in radiation levels in nearby Severodvinsk, but the authorities insisted the recorded levels didn’t pose any danger to local residents.

Russian officials’ changing and contradictory accounts of the incident drew comparisons to Soviet attempts to cover up the 1986 explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

The Russian Defense Ministry at first denied any radiation leak in the incident even as the authorities in nearby Severodvinsk reported a brief rise in radiation levels and advised residents to stay indoors and close the windows. Frightened residents rushed to buy iodine, which can help reduce risks from exposure to radiation.

Russia’s state weather and environmental monitoring agency said the peak radiation reading in Severodvinsk on Aug. 8 was 1.78 microsieverts per hour in just one neighborhood, about 16 times the average. Peak readings in other parts of Severodvinsk varied between 0.45 and 1.33 microsieverts.

The announced peak levels were indeed lower than the cosmic radiation that plane passengers are exposed to on longer flights or doses that patients get during some medical scans.

No detail on weapon tested
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CNTBTO) said earlier this week that several Russian radiation monitoring stations went silent shortly after the explosion in Nyonoksa. Lassina Zebro, the organization’s executive secretary, said Tuesday that the two Russian stations reported to be offline were back in operation and are now backfilling the data.

Observers said that several stations coming offline at the same time appeared to reflect a coordinated effort to conceal the radiation data, which could help identify the technology that was being tested at the time of the explosion.

Putin hailed the victims, saying they were doing “very important work for the nation’s security,” but kept mum on what type of weapon they were testing.

Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom said the explosion occurred on an offshore platform during tests of a “nuclear isotope power source” for a rocket engine, a statement that led some experts to conclude that the weapon undergoing tests was the Burevestnik (Storm Petrel), a prospective nuclear-powered cruise missile first mentioned by Putin in 2018 that was code-named Skyfall by NATO.

U.S. President Donald Trump has backed that theory in a tweet, saying that the U.S. is “learning much” from the deadly explosion. In a tweet, he said, “The Russian Skyfall explosion has people worried about the air around the facility, and far beyond. Not good!”

The U.S. worked to develop a nuclear-powered missile in the 1960s under Project Pluto, but abandoned the technology as too unstable and risky.

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A Holiday in Chernobyl

Watch Kate Brown’s stunning lecture about the real, terrifying aftermath of the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant.

Then buy her fabulous, groundbreaking new book Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future and read it from cover to cover.

Once you have done this, ask yourself what kind of cynical lunatics would take people on holidays to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Chernobyl Cooling Tower

Day 5: Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
Friday, July 31, 2020

Leaving early from our hotel, we’ll travel by private bus to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. We’ll meet our Chernobyl guide, while a documentary film playing on the bus will bring us up to speed on the accident, its causes, and its many repercussions. On our first day in Chernobyl we’ll visit the reactors themselves to witness ground zero of the accident, admire the new containment structure installed in 2016, as well as check out some of the other facilities around the nuclear power plant. Between excursions, we’ll take lunch in the Chernobyl workers’ canteen, surrounded by scientists and engineers currently stationed at the plant. Later, after a long day of exploring, dinner will be served at a restaurant in Chernobyl town. Our accommodation for the night is at a hotel nearby, located inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Day 6: The Streets of Pripyat
Saturday, August 1, 2020

At the time of the Chernobyl accident, the workers’ city Pripyat had a population of 49,000 people. It was evacuated soon after the event, and now survives as one of the world’s most famous ghost towns. Today, we’ll get to know this empty city intimately, walking its desolate streets, and visitings its abandoned schools, hospitals, and theaters. We’ll see all of Pripyat’s main landmarks, including the fairground, swimming pools, and also some fabulous street murals. After lunch back at the Chernobyl canteen, we’ll then get to visit one of the Exclusion Zone’s best-kept secrets: the DUGA radar installation, or “Russian Woodpecker,” that rises to a height of 150 meters at the heart of an abandoned Soviet military base. Late in the day we’ll return to the capital for one last night at our Kyiv hotel.

Source: Atlas Obscura. Photo of Chernobyl Cooling Tower by Darmon Richter. Courtesy of Atlas Obscura. Thanks to Louis Proyect for the heads-up on the lecture.

Sergey Yermakov: Revolution or Chernobyl!

Sergey Yermakov
Facebook
December 19, 2015

Back in her day, we recall, Rosa Luxemberg proposed the slogan “Socialism or barbarism!” While not obvious at first glance, the slogan is profoundly and functionally religious, albeit secularized, since it deals with salvation, with socialism as a project of salvation from the consequences of capitalism. In 1916, in the midst of a monstrous imperialist war, it was a secular take on soteriology, the doctrine of salvation.

The “or” is telltale. Although “barbarism” implies the entire subject matter of nineteenth-century Hegelianism and positivism, the theme of progress, as opposed to barbarism, the subject of progress as Bildung, the slogan is, nevertheless, anti-Hegelian. Nothing vouchsafes the Spirit’s final pleroma; the victory of progress is not obvious. Nor is it obvious that the arrow of history is generally pointed towards an increase of the good, and that a “higher” formation will inevitably come to replace the “lower” formation. But because salvation is not vouchsafed, we must work on its behalf and advocate for it. (Whereas, in the Hegelian universe, Self-Development of the Spirit, Ltd., and Progress, Inc., issue you a guarantee in writing, a futures contract for salvation.)

So, dear missionaries and itinerant preachers, boldly introduce the subject of salvation into your sermonizing. When the laymen groan, as they usually do, that the outcome will be bloody and so forth, you tell them, “Revolution or Chernobyl!” (I am serious.)

A regime incapable of maintaining a functioning technosphere, for which it bears responsibility, legitimates its own overthrow. Revolution does not guarantee the emergence of a new technosphere, of course. Politics and science and technics (and even governance and science) hardly run in parallel lines, just as revolution does not guarantee a regime more capable of governance. As a manifestation of the demos, however, revolution, at least for some time, generates a collectively responsible subject, a subject capable of deliberating on its own collective future, including the technosphere.

By the way, for those who find such things crucial, I do not fully understand the meaning of the term “sovereignty” in 2015, but perhaps only revolution is capable of preserving it, simply by generating the dimension of collective responsibility, the sense that “regular dudes are in charge here.” As it is, one ninth of the earth’s land mass has begun to present an excessive danger, given its unpredictability and irresponsibility, toward the other eight ninths, even taking in account the disasters with oil rigs that happen there and monstrously smoky China. God forbid that external management should be required.

P.S. We have to think over whether Luxemberug’s slogan—and the line of campaigning proposed—suggest that revolution (an apocalyptic event towards which the messianic subject is directed) is the katechon, that which holds back (in this case, a technological disaster), because there is an obvious paradox here: the katechon is anti-apocalyptical figure.

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Emergency Shutdown of Second Unit at Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant 
www.greenworld.org.ru
December 19, 2015

An emergency shutdown of the second unit at Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant took place on Friday, December 18, at 1:50 p.m. local time. The cause of the shutdown and emergency cooling of the reactor was a sudden influx of radioactive steam from a faulty pipe into one of the rooms in the turbine section.

Both of the turbines servicing the reactor were shut down.

During the cooling down, the steam generated in the reactor was ejected into the environment through a pipe. A south-southeasterly wind blowing at five meters per second (such a wind is atypical for this locale) carried the radioactive steam toward the Gulf of Finland in the direction of Zelenogorsk and Vyborg. Green World recorded a background radiation of 20 mR/h at five p.m. local time in downtown Sosnovy Bor, five kilometers away from the affected unit.

Saint Petersburg, a city of five million people people that is situated forty kilometers to the east of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, was thus fortunate this time round. According to some sources, the background radiation increased only severalfold in the vicinity of the plant.

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In the photo, radioactive steam from the unit drifts towards Vyborg as the unit is cooled down.

The second unit at the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant has been operating for forty years, although it has a projected operating life of thirty years. Its operating life was extended without the legally required public hearings and environmental impact assessment.

At present, all four units at the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant are operating beyond their projected lifetimes. The oldest of the Chernobyl series reactors at Sosnovy Bor is scheduled to be shut down only in 2018 after forty-five years in operation.

The eastern part of the Gulf of Finland is entering into a ten-year period of heightened risk of accidents at nuclear sites. On the one hand, during this period (lasting until 2026), the service life of the RMBK-1000 reactors at Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant will be extended and there will be a greater likelihood of accidents. During this same period, the new (VVER-1200-powered) units at Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant II are scheduled to come online, and there will be an increased risk of accidents due to errors by designers, builders, and inexperienced personnel.

So we are faced with a headline-making increase in the probability of accidents at the Sosnovy Bor nuclear cluster.

Translated by the Russian Reader