Severe accident at nuclear laboratory

Publish date: June 19, 1997

Written by: Igor Kudrik

On June 17, at 10:50 Moscow time, malfunctioning research equipment led to strong emissions of neutron rays at a laboratory in Arzamas-16 (Sarov), Nizhny Novgorod county. One researcher received a high dose of radiation and was sent to the hospital, reports Interfax.

According to Georgy Kaurov, Chief Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom), the incident prompted strong safety measures. The room where the accident took place has been sealed, and a commission, led by deputy head of Minatom’s Department for Emergency Situations Gennady Novikov, has been appointed to decide how to unseal the room and reach the malfunctioning equipment without causing severe consequences.

Kaurov said to Interfax that the incident occurred while conducting research related to nuclear weaponry, in a so-called critical assembly unit. In such a facility fissile materials are in a state close to the critical moment of chain reaction.

The injured scientist received a dose of between 1 and 2 Sv and was sent for treatment at the Health Ministry’s Clinic no.6. According to Kaurov, such a dose would have been lethal a few years ago, but modern medicine have found ways to cure this kind of radiation victims.

Allegedly, there was no radiation discharge to the environment.

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