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It Appears Russia Is Covering Up a Nuclear Accident Again – New York Magazine

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U.S. officials reportedly believe the nuclear blast in Russia was related to the development of a weapons system announced by Vladimir Putin in 2018. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday, August 8, Russia’s state nuclear energy company, Rosatom, announced that two military personnel were killed in an explosion at a military testing site outside Severodvinsk, a city on the White Sea with restricted access for foreign visitors. Rosatom initially attributed the casualties to a blast caused by liquid-fueled rocket engine, and in a familiar Russian idiom, the state corporation issued a collectivist lament: “A bright memory of our comrades will forever live in our hearts.”

The aftermath of the explosion brought another familiarly Russian concern: the possibility of a cover-up of a nuclear event. Within hours of the explosion, scientists in Severodvinsk clocked a spike in radiation, though the report was cleared from its website shortly after. By Friday, a Russian maritime authority cut off shipping access in the surrounding bay for a month; a nuclear non-proliferation group identified a specialized ship frequently used to carry liquid radioactive waste within the exclusion zone near the explosion; pharmacies in the region began to run out of iodine, believed to be a first line of defense against radiation sickness; and a Russian news site published a video in which personnel injured by the explosion were taken to a hospital in Moscow in ambulances sealed with plastic, in an apparent attempt to prevent contamination. An evacuation of a nearby village was planned, then cancelled.