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The nuclear accidents we don’t hear about – Soviet Submarine K-19

5 Unknown Nuclear Disasters: Chernobyl Is Far from the Only One, Chernobyl is not the world’s only nuclear disaster, there are plenty of others to keep you up at night., Interesting Engineering, By  

Soviet Submarine K-19

K-19 was one of what the Soviets called their Project 658-class submarines, while NATO called them Hotel-class. They were the first generation of nuclear submarines equipped with nuclear ballistic missiles.

Commissioned on April 30, 1961, K-19 was snake bit from the start. On its initial voyage, on July 4, 1961, it was conducting exercises off the coast of Greenland when suddenly, pressure in the reactor’s cooling system dropped to zero due to a leak.

The emergency SCRAM system immediately inserted the control rods, but due to decay heat, the reactor’s temperature rose to 800 degrees C (1,470 degrees F). The accident released steam containing fission products throughout the ship through the ventilation system.

The captain ordered the ship’s engineering crew to fabricate a new cooling system, but this required them to work within the radioactive area. The jury-rigged cooling water system prevented a complete meltdown of the reactor core.

American warships nearby had picked up K-19’s distress call and offered to help, but K-19’s captain, fearful of giving away Soviet military secrets, refused. Instead, K-19 sailed to meet up with a diesel-powered Soviet submarine. The accident had irradiated K-19’s entire crew, as well as the ship and some of her ballistic missiles.

Within a month, all eight members of the ship’s engineering crew died of radiation exposure. They are Boris KorchilovBoris RyzhikovYuriy OrdochkinEvgeny KashenkovSemyon PenkovNicolai SavkinValery Charitonov, and Yuriy Povstyev.

Within the next two years, 15 other sailors died of radiation-related illnesses.

Towed into port, K-19 contaminated a 700 meter (2,300 feet) wide area, and the repair crews who worked on her. Eventually, the Soviet Navy dumped the damaged reactor into the Kara Sea.

The 2002 movie K-19: the Windowmaker, which starred Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson, is based on the K-19 disaster…..


August 3, 2019 - Posted by | incidents, Reference, Russia

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