Nuclear transport-truck collision in Chelyabinsk:

Publish date: September 16, 1997

Written by: Igor Kudrik

The collision of a transport-truck carrying radioactive materials on September 11 led to radioactive leakage, reported news agency AP. --Not true, says the nuclear inspectorate, which were not informed of the incident when contacted by Bellona Web on Monday 15.

On September 11 a special transport truck, carrying 23 transport containers with capsules containing solid materials with isotopes of irridium-192 and cobalt-60 for civilian applications, suffered a collision with a K-701 tractor some 110 km from the city of Chelyabinsk. As a result of the collision the lids of two transport containers separated, with capsules falling out. The rest of the transport containers suffered various degrees of damage. The material was scattered for a radius of 5-7 meters around the truck.

A special crew from Mayak plant was immediately sent to the place of the accident. The containers and capsules were collected and sent back to the plant. The rescue operation was completed on the evening of Friday 12.

According to news agency AP, the radiation level at the spot exceeded the normal background levels by 25 times. AP sources to this information are unclear.

Nuclear Control Inspection not informed
Having received the above information, Bellona Web got in contact with the public relations centre of the Russian State Nuclear Control Inspection (GAN) in Moscow this Monday. It then turned out that GAN was not aware of the accident, and the GAN official wanted to call back when circumstances were clarified. In an interview with Bellona WEB some hours later, a GAN spokesman denied the reports that there was a leakage of radiation, referring to the fact that the substances in question were solid and that the air-tightness of the capsules inside the transport containers remained intact.

–The lids of the two transport containers were separated as a result of the collision, but the capsules inside remained undamaged, claimed GAN’s spokesman. –No leakage of radiation was detected, which is why we were not informed earlier, said the spokesman.