“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

______________________________________

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.

Advertisements

Petersburg Activists Protest Proposed Nuclear Waste Storage Facility

Petersburg Activists Protest Proposed Nuclear Waste Storage Facility
David Frenkel
Special to The Russian Reader
July 16, 2015

Yesterday, July 15, activists protested the proposed construction of Russia’s largest radioactive waste storage facility in Sosnovy Bor, a town eighty kilometers west of Petersburg that also hosts the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant. A second plant, Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant–2, is also currently under construction in the town.

The protest took place outside the Mariinsky Palace, seat of the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly.

Garbed in hazmat suits, activists from the Beautiful Petersburg and Beautiful Leningrad Region movements brought a barrel to the steps of the palace. It was one of the 500,000 barrels of nuclear waste slated for burial in Sosnovy Bor.

david-nuke-1“#IOPPOSETHERWBF” (Radioactive Waste Burial Facility)

State Duma deputy Nikolai Kuzmin, Petersburg Legislative Assembly deputies Maxim Reznik and Irina Ivanova, and members of the organizations Green Front, Green World, and Native Shore joined the activists. They signed an appeal asking President Putin to halt construction of the storage facility.

david-nuke-3Petersburg Legislative Assembly Deputy Maxim Reznik signing appeal to president

The protest did not come off without a provocation. A man who identified himself as a journalist from the “president’s creative special forces” accused the activists, including Kuzmin, of “working on behalf of the west” and “receiving foreign grants.”

In June, the Russian Supreme Court approved the placement of the disposal facility in Sosnovy Bor. Opponents of the project have pointed to the fact that, according to Russian federal standards, such facilities should be built at a considerable distance from populated areas, bodies of water, and recreational areas.

Earlier in the day, Rosatom had announced that it would change the concept of the waste storage facility because it was economically unfeasible. It was not yet known what the new project would look like.

As of this writing, over 47,000 signatures have been collected on a petition against the waste facility posted on Change.org.

david-nuke-4The Leningrad Nuclear Plant has been in the news on two other occasions in recent weeks.

In early July, a building supervisor climbed a 110-meter-high construction crane and refused to come down until back wages owed to him and his colleagues were paid.

On July 4, a seventy-ton piece of equipment, a protective tube unit, fell while being lifted at the construction site of Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant–2 and was damaged beyond repair. In addition to increasing costs, the accident is likely to delay the project completion date. The plant was initially to be launched in 2013. Later, the launch date was postponed to late 2015. This latest accident may delay the launch even further.

All photographs by and courtesy of David Frenkel

Finlandization

__________

Environment Minister defends “Finlandisation” comments
September 18, 2014
yle.fi

Environment Minister Ville Niinistö has taken to social media to defend comments he made to the influential business daily Financial Times, where he charged that Finland has been kowtowing to Russia in its foreign policy decisions. Niinistö came under heated attack from senior politicians of all stripes who roundly condemned his comments as being “unpatriotic”.

Environment Minister and Green League chair Ville Niinistö found himself at the centre of a firestorm Wednesday when the Financial Times reported his comments that Finland had been putting Russian interests ahead of its own values and returning to the days of “Finlandisation”, a policy of Soviet appeasement practiced during the Cold War.

Niinistö objects to the construction of more nuclear power plants in Finland, and wants to hold government to a pledge not to build new nuclear capacity, as a condition for his party to remain in government.

On Monday however Economic Affairs Minister Jan Vapaavuori announced that he would recommend that government approve a revised plan to construct a new Russian-built plant for the Finnish power consortium Fennovoima.

Niinistö: Finland giving Russians leverage

On Wednesday Niinistö told the Financial Times that building a new nuclear reactor with Rosatom, the contractor selected to deliver the Fennovoima plant, would increase Finland’s energy dependency on Russia. Rosatom currently owns some 34 percent of the plant.

“There is a sense of Finlandisation here. We are giving the Russians the very leverage they are looking for with the west and the EU. This puts us into a very vulnerable position . . . Bluntly speaking, it is totally bewildering that the rest of the government thinks this is OK,” he added.

On Yle’s A-Studio discussion programme Wednesday evening, veteran politicians Mauri Pekkarinen of the Centre Party, Pertti Salolainen of the National Coalition and the Social Democrats’ Jouni Backman unanimously roasted Niinistö for the comments, calling them “less than patriotic”.

Minister Vapaavuori also weighed in Thursday, condemning the Green chair’s statements as ”low” and “below the belt”.

“It’s very confusing to talk about Finlandisation and these kinds of things when we consider that for example that I myself have long been a staunch supporter of NATO membership,” Vapaavuori added.

Greens want investment in renewable energy

Niinistö returned fire via social media, commenting on Facebook that Finland would appear in an odd light in the European Union if it took on board a joint investment with Russia in a major nuclear power plant in the middle of a sanctions regime against Russia.

“A few old politicians have taken issue with one word, but haven’t been able to address a single word of the actual content,” Niinistö wrote in Facebook as he commented on the A-Studio discussion.

“Russia will use this to its own advantage to show that not all EU countries believe that there is anything wrong with Russia’s actions. Their media have already said so,” Niinistö pointed out.

Niinistö said it’s odd that the nuclear project to be delivered by Rosatom has been automatically presented as the only right choice, when another alternative could have been to invest in domestic renewable energy and increasing energy self-sufficiency.

“If we can’t talk about this in Finland, then there’s something very strange about the political discourse in this country,“ Niinistö concluded.

On Thursday, Niinistö’s boss, Prime Minister Alexander Stubb limited his comments to noting that the word Finlandisation was a sensitive term.

“”It’s odd that it came out of the mouth of a Finn,” Stubb added.

The premier called for cool tempers, noting that a nuclear power project involves a long process.

93265540

Thanks to Comrade Sergey and Sofi Oksanen for the heads-up on the hilarious video, and Google Maps for the photo of the Russian-Finnish frontier somewhere in South Karelia.