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Barents Sea – the Arctic’s radioactive legacy of Soviet nuclear weapons testing

“The Barents Sea and the coast of Novaya Zemlya were turned into a dump for solid and liquid radioactive waste. A catastrophic situation has been created. A real threat has emerged, not only to sea mammals but everything in the ocean. The ecological and genetic consequences are unpredictable.”

Novaya Zemlya, an Arctic island twice as big as Switzerland, was cleared of its inhabitants in the 1950s to make way for nuclear weapons testing.

The frigid waters of the White and Barents seas were used as a dump for spent reactors from nuclear submarines and icebreakers.

Kara-barents_seaAt top of the world, the Soviet legacy is pollution, Baltimore Sun  April 19, 1992|By Kathy Lally | Kathy Lally,Moscow Bureau ARCHANGEL, Russia — Soviet power has disappeared here, but it has left a fatal legacy.

The march toward communism cost the people of Archangel their pure air, clean water and even the health of their children. This snowy expanse near the Arctic Circle seems fouled beyond all understanding.

The damage was thorough, unrelenting and so insidious that scientists have yet to determine its extent.

The latest victims are thousands of harp seals dying of cancer from the harm the former Soviet Union inflicted upon itself and its unsuspecting people as it moved to industrialization and superpower status. Scientists suspect that these beautiful animals with the large imploring eyes are being killed by years of irresponsible Soviet nuclear testing and dumping.

Once the seals were threatened only by hunters who club the pups to death for their luxurious, snow-white pelts. Now those that survive migrate through water so contaminated that environmentalists imagine it fairly crackles with radioactivity.

Scientists began taking blood and tissue samples from the seals two years ago, after more than a million dead starfish washed up along the White Sea coast.

They are still unsure of what killed the starfish, but the study of the seals has revealed blood pathologies consistent with long-term toxic or radioactive exposure.

“This is a problem so big and serious it goes beyond us,” says Yuri K. Timoshenko, director of the marine mammal laboratory at the Polar Scientific Research Institute here.

“It goes beyond our studies and finances.”

Mr. Timoshenko says it is too soon to submit findings to scientific journals, for scientists have not yet established an absolute link to the nuclear waste here.

But the evidence is strong enough that when he began to suspect recently that the Russian government would resume nuclear testing on the island of Novaya Zemlya, Mr. Timoshenko and two colleagues alerted the people of Archangel.

They published an article in a local newspaper, Pravda of the North, earlier this month warning that thousands of seals were ill with blood cancers.

“In the last decades, monstrous experiments connected with numerous nuclear weapons tests were performed on Novaya Zemlya,” the article said.

“The Barents Sea and the coast of Novaya Zemlya were turned into a dump for solid and liquid radioactive waste. A catastrophic situation has been created. A real threat has emerged, not only to sea mammals but everything in the ocean. The ecological and genetic consequences are unpredictable.”

Novaya Zemlya, an Arctic island twice as big as Switzerland, was cleared of its inhabitants in the 1950s to make way for nuclear weapons testing.

The frigid waters of the White and Barents seas were used as a dump for spent reactors from nuclear submarines and icebreakers.

Environmentalists say that the Soviet government operated its nuclear program with reckless disregard not only for sea animals but for people……….

Nearly 200 miles south of Archangel, rockets arc over the sky to the east in secret military tests.

The boosters scatter to the ground, with vestiges of dangerous fuel in them.

Most terrifying of all, no one has any idea what the military is up to. “Our economy is unequaled in the world by the concentration of military factories,” says Viktor S. Sadkov, a member of the regional council.

“We ought to be in the Guinness Book of Records. Just now we are starting to understand our state is a big, unitary military camp.” http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1992-04-19/news/1992110007_1_novaya-zemlya-nuclear-weapons-nuclear-program

 

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August 31, 2015 - Posted by | ARCTIC, oceans

1 Comment »

  1. […] Even Radioactive waste from inland Russia worked its way to the Arctic: “In the 1950’s, the effluent from the nuclear-weapons factory near Chelyabinsk was dumped into the River Techa. It ended up in the Arctic Ocean. Between 1964 and 1986, some 7,000 tons of solid radioactive waste and 1,600 cubic meters of liquid waste was pitched into the Kara and Barents Seas from the base in Murmasnk which serviced the Soviet fleet of nuclear powered naval and merchant ships. Likewise, nuclear reactors from at least 18 nuclear submarines and icebreakers were dumped in the Barents sea, and an entire nuclear sub was deliberately sunk after an accident in May 1968. Another nuclear submarine, the Komsomolets, sank 300 miles of Norway with the loss of 42 sailors. It went down with two nuclear warheads. Finally, the Russians were dumping unprossed nuclear waste into The Sea of Japan. As late as October 1993, the Russians confirmed that one of their ships discharged 900 tons of radioactive water from scrapped nuclear submarines.” http://www1.american.edu/ted/arctic.htm Related: http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/cold-war-legacies-nuclear-waste-in-the-russian-arctic-a-390715.html https://nuclear-news.net/2015/08/31/barents-sea-the-arctics-radioactive-legacy-of-soviet-nuclear-weap… […]

    Pingback by Did Russia Nuke Santa and his Reindeer? The Arctic Still Endangered by Lethal Radionuclides | Mining Awareness Plus | December 25, 2015 | Reply


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