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Planetary catastrophe – was not likely from the Russian nuclear submarine accident

Russian Navy Claims Sailors Prevented ‘Planetary Catastrophe’
Was the damaged submarine’s reactor in danger of causing a nuclear accident?  By Kyle Mizokami, Jul 10, 2019  A senior Russian Navy official said that accident on the nuclear-powered submarine Losharik was nearly a “planetary catastrophe,” were it not for the fourteen sailors killed in the incident. The submarine, widely believed to be a spy sub capable of operating on the deep ocean floor, was damaged in an accident on July 1st. The Kremlin denied there was risk of such a “catastrophe.”

An aid to the head of the Russian Navy, Sergei Pavlov, stated at a funeral for the sailors lost in the accident, “With their lives, they saved the lives of their colleagues, saved the vessel and prevented a planetary catastrophe.” Pavlov reportedly did not elaborate.

The Kremlin denied that the reactor had been at risk, stating that it had been “totally sealed off” and there were no problems with it. Radiation monitoring stations in Norway relatively near where the incident took place have not reported any spikes in radioactivity.

The accident, according to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, started in the sub’s battery compartment and spread. This suggests a fire that was the result of a buildup of hydrogen gasses inside the ship. Submarines, even nuclear ones, carry banks of batteries to provide a temporary source of power, and hydrogen is produced as a byproduct of the battery charging process. If the gas reaches a critical level of concentration, a spark onboard the ship could set off a fire.

According to Shoigu, the crew battled the fire for an hour and a half. Although the automatic fire extinguishers kicked in, they proved insufficient. The surviving crew managed to initiate an emergency blow procedure and the ship surfaced off the coast of the Kola Peninsula, where the remaining crew members were rescued.

Losharik, named after a cartoon horse made of interconnected juggling balls, got its name because the interior of the ship is made of seven interconnected steel or titanium spheres. The spheres give the ship its deep diving capability, with the sub reportedly capable of reaching depths of at least 1,000 meters (3,280 feet).

It is not clear where Losharik’s 5 megawatt nuclear reactor resides, but the ship is only 230 feet long with all personnel, propulsion systems, and mission equipment inside the seven spheres. The fire could not have been far from the reactor, but if the reactor and batteries resided in different spheres they could have been closed off from one another. Shoigu seems to be stating that was the case.

Even if the fire did reach the reactor it seems unlikely that the ejection of radioactive materials could cause a “planetary catastrophe” on the scale of the 1986 Chernobyl accident. Losharik’s reactor generated just five megawatts, the RBMK reactor at Chernobyl was much more powerful and used much more nuclear material to generate up to 3,200 megawatts.


July 13, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Russia | Leave a comment

Intruders jump fence at U.S. nuclear reactor that uses bomb-grade fuel

Intruders jump fence at U.S. nuclear reactor that uses bomb-grade fuel Timothy Gardner  WASHINGTON (Reuters) 12 July 19,- Two people jumped a security fence at a GE Hitachi research reactor near San Francisco, the U.S. nuclear power regulator said on Thursday, raising concerns over a plant that is one of the few in the country that uses highly enriched uranium, a material that could be used to make an atomic bomb.

The intruders jumped a security perimeter fence at the Vallecitos reactor in Alameda County on Wednesday afternoon, a 1,600-acre (647.5-hectare) site about 40 miles (64 km) east of San Francisco, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on its website in a security threat notice.

They escaped security at the plant after being detected, but shortly afterwards suspects were detained outside the facility, the NRC said.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NRC notice did not mention that the plant is one of the few in the country to use highly enriched uranium, or HEU. Such plants have been under pressure from non-proliferation interests to convert to low-enriched uranium, or LEU, a material that cannot be used to make a bomb…….

July 13, 2019 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Recycling nuclear waste still itself produces nuclear waste

Recycle everything, America—except your nuclear waste    By Allison MacfarlaneSharon Squassoni, July 8, 2019 Americans have come late to the game on responsible consumerism, but they are making up for lost time with a passionate obsession about waste.  It’s no coincidence that Fox News, CNN, YouTube and USA Today have all reported that the deepest solo ocean dive found plastic waste seven miles below the surface, in the Mariana Trench.

Now that Americans are “woke” about waste in general, they may turn to the specific kind produced by the nuclear energy industry. Plans to revitalize US nuclear power, which is in dire economic straits, depend on the potential for new, “advanced” reactors to reduce and recycle the waste they produce.  Unfortunately, as they “burn” some kinds of nuclear wastes, these plants will create other kinds that also require disposal. At the same time, these “advanced” reactors—many of which are actually reprises of past efforts—increase security and nuclear weapons proliferation risks and ultimately do nothing to break down the political and societal resistance to finding real solutions to nuclear waste disposal.

The current nuclear dream is really no different from previous ones of the last 70 years: the next generation of reactors, nuclear power advocates insist, will be safer, cheaper, more reliable, less prone to produce nuclear bomb-making material, and more versatile (producing electricity, heat, and perhaps hydrogen), without creating the wastes that have proved almost impossible to deal with in the United States.  The Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act specifically describes the advanced reactors it seeks to support as having all those positive characteristics.  This newest burst of enthusiasm for advanced reactors is, however, largely fueled by the idea that they will burn some of their long-lived radioisotopes, thereby becoming nuclear incinerators for some of their own waste.

Many of these “advanced” reactors are actually repackaged designs from 70 years ago.  If the United States, France, the UK, Germany, Japan, Russia, and others could not make these reactors economically viable power producers in that time, despite spending more than $60 billion, what is different now?  Moreover, all of the “advanced” designs under discussion now are simply “PowerPoint” reactors: They have not been built at scale, and, as a result, we don’t really know all the waste streams that they will produce.

It’s tempting to believe that having new nuclear power plants that serve, to some degree, as nuclear garbage disposals means there is no need for a nuclear garbage dump, but this isn’t really the case. Even in an optimistic assessment, these new plants will still produce significant amounts of high-level, long-lived waste. What’s more, new fuel forms used in some of these advanced reactors could pose waste disposal challenges not seen to date.

Some of these new reactors would use molten salt-based fuels that, when exposed to water, form highly corrosive hydrofluoric acid. Therefore, reprocessing (or some form of “conditioning”) the waste will likely be required for safety reasons before disposal. Sodium-cooled fast reactors—a “new” technology proposed to be used in some advanced reactors, including the Bill Gates-funded TerraPower reactors—face their own disposal challenges. These include dealing with the metallic uranium fuel which is pyrophoric (that is, prone to spontaneous combustion) and would need to be reprocessed into a safer form for disposal.

Unconventional reactors may reduce the level of some nuclear isotopes in the spent fuel they produce, but that won’t change what really drives requirements for our future nuclear waste repository: the heat production of spent fuel and amount of long-lived radionuclides in the waste. To put it another way, the new reactors will still need a waste repository, and it will likely need to be just as large as a repository for the waste produced by the current crop of conventional reactors.

Recycling and minimizing—even eliminating—the waste streams that many industries produce is responsible and prudent behavior. But in the context of nuclear energy, recycling is expensive, dirty, and ultimately dangerous.  Reprocessing spent nuclear fuel—which some advanced reactor designs require for safety reasons—actually produces fissile material that could be used to power nuclear weapons.  This is precisely why the United States has avoided the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel for the last four decades, despite having the world’s largest number of commercial nuclear power plants.

Continuing research on how to deal with nuclear waste is a great idea. But building expensive prototypes of reactors whose fuel requires reprocessing, on the belief that such reactors will solve the nuclear waste problem in America, is misguided. At the same time, discounting the notion that a US move into reprocessing might spur other countries to develop this same technology—a technology they could secretly exploit to produce nuclear weapons—is shortsighted and damaging to US national and world security.

July 11, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, safety, wastes | Leave a comment

What are the risks at closed San Onofre nuclear plant during a big earthquake?

July 9, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Holtec’s dodgy nuclear waste canisters

The Holtec nuclear waste storage canisters at San Onofre are lemons and must be replaced with thick-wall casks. 11/29/2018 Oceanside:   The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) admits in their November 28, 2018 NRC Inspection Report and Notice of Violation, ML18332A357 (page 8 and 9) every Holtec canister downloaded into the storage holes is damaged due to inadequate clearance between the canister and the divider shell in the storage hole (vault).  The NRC states canister walls are already “worn”.  This results in cracks. Once cracks start, they continue to grow through the wall.

The NRC stated Southern California Edison (and Holtec) knew about this since January 2018, but continued to load 29 canisters anyway. Continue reading

July 9, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Danger of grid blackout to California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant

How Safe Is Diablo Canyon in a Station Blackout?   b PG&E’s Nuclear Power Plant Is Tied to the Grid  In the wake of Pacific Gas & Electric’s bankruptcy due to the devastating wildfires, death, and destruction caused by its aging and vulnerable transmission lines, the big question is, how safe and secure is its “grid tied” Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant?

Diablo is dependent upon the electric grid to function. Without electricity, the operator would lose instrumentation leading to the inability to cool both reactor cores. Unfortunately, out-of-control forest fires and damaged power lines could cause a “station blackout” in which all off-site power is lost.

Every nuclear power plant has emergency diesel generators to counter off-site power loss. Now, especially because of President Trump’s threat to cut back on inspections at atomic power plants, including the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, my main concerns are whether Diablo’s emergency generators are in good working order and will there be enough on-site diesel fuel to power the facility if the regional electric grid goes down for a couple of weeks or longer? In the event of a station blackout, core damage is estimated to begin in approximately one hour if the auxiliary feed-water system and high pressure injection flow aren’t reestablished in time.

The loss of off-site power could also cause a failure of the spent-fuel-rod cooling systems. When the spent-fuel cooling pumps stop working, the water in the pools starts to boil off. Once the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant’s overcrowded spent-fuel assemblies become uncovered, the fuel rods cladding will start to melt. As bits of the melting fuel fall into what’s left of the water, the water will flash to steam causing the pressure in the buildings to increase. Radioactive particles carried in the steam would then begin to exit the buildings through non-sealed portals and doors.

Exposing hot zirconium fuel-rod cladding to the air causes an exothermic reaction; the cladding will actually catch fire at about 1,000 degrees centigrade causing toxic radioactive isotopes to be released into the atmosphere. Even the Nuclear Regulatory Commission concedes that this type of fire cannot be extinguished.

Another reason why PG&E is caught between a rock and a hard place is because of its mandatory power cut-offs during hot, dry, and windy weather. Will Pacific Gas & Electric have to choose between power outages to curb the possibility of raging wildfires and the threat of a “station blackout” at its more-than-hazardous Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant? What if a major Fukushima-like-earthquake were to occur during a “station blackout” during which all off-site electricity is lost due to a mandatory power cut-off? This definitely is a lose-lose situation!  Why must we continue to live with this unnecessary danger?

Now more that ever, it’s time to Close Diablo Down!

July 8, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

California governor declares state of emergency after earthquakes

The 7.1 quake was the strongest in Southern California since one of the same magnitude hit Hector Mines in 1999, officials said.

July 8, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Was Russian nuclear submarine accident close to a planetary catastrophe?

Russian servicemen ‘averted planetary catastrophe’ during nuclear submarine accident, military official claims at funeral

Kremlin refuses to reveal mission of vessel, citing state secrets Tom Embury-Dennis   8 July 19, Families of the 14 Russian servicemen who were killed after a fire broke out on a nuclear submarine have reportedly been told that their relatives averted a “planetary catastrophe” before they died.

A high-ranking military official is said to have made the comment at a funeral for the crew in St Petersburgh days after the accident in the Barents Sea earlier this week.

The incident remains shrouded in mystery after the Russian government refused to reveal the submarine’s name and its mission, claiming them as state secrets.

However, the Kremlin has said the accident was sparked by a fire in the battery compartment of the submarine.

Defence minister Sergei Shoigu said earlier this week that the onboard nuclear reactor was “operational” after the crew took “necessary measures” to protect it.

  • His deputy Andrei Kartapolov also claimed the “hero” submariners sealed a hatch to contain the blaze.
  • The Kremlin has not revealed what exactly occurred, or whether a major incident was averted by the servicemen’s actions.Paying tribute to the crew at the memorial, the unnamed military official said the submariners had prevented a much bigger tragedy, Russian news outlet Open Media reported.

July 8, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Russia | Leave a comment

Chernobyl’s $1.7B nuclear confinement shelter finally revealed

Chernobyl’s $1.7B nuclear confinement shelter revealed after taking 9 years to complete,  By Paulina Dedaj | Fox News  4 July 19  A new structure built to confine the Chernobyl reactor at the center of the world’s worst nuclear disaster was previewed for the media Tuesday.

Reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploded and burned April 26, 1986.

The complex construction effort to secure the molten reactor’s core and 200 tons of highly radioactive material has taken 9 years to complete under the auspices of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It was built to cover the temporary concrete and steel Shelter Structure, which was built immediately after the disaster, but which had begun to deteriorate in the 1990s.

The structure itself cost 1.5 billion euros (almost $1.7 billion) and the entire shelter project cost 2.2 billion euros. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development managed a fund with contributions from 45 countries, the European Union and 715 million euros in the bank’s own resources.

The shelter is the largest moveable land-based structure ever built, with a span of 843 feet and a total weight of over 36,000 tonnes.

“This was a very long project,” said Balthasar Lindauer, director of the bank’s Nuclear Safety Department. He noted that preliminary studies began in 1998 and the contract for the structure was placed in 2007.

He said Ukraine was a big contributor, contributing 100 million euros in cash along with expertise and personnel. …….

July 8, 2019 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Arrests in Turkey for theft of nuclear weapons material

Nuclear weapon material worth $72mn seized in a car in Turkey : 7 Jul, 2019  Turkish police have taken five people into custody over the smuggling of a highly-radioactive substance used to build nuclear weapons and power nuclear reactors. The 18.1-gram haul was found in a car.

Police discovered a vial of the material after they pulled over a car in the northwestern Bolu province. The substance, believed to be californium, was found stashed under the gear stick wrapped in a bag. Officers had to cut the upholstery to get to the parcel, which is estimated to be worth US$72 million.

Five suspects were detained in the raid, and the mixture was taken to the Turkish Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK) for a detailed analysis.

Californium is named after the place where it was synthesized back in 1950 – a laboratory at the University of California. Apart from being used to manufacture nukes and nuclear-powered reactors, the element also has a range of rather innocuous civilian applications. It can be used as part of metal detectors and is used in cancer treatment as well as oil, silver, and gold mining operations. Still, the substance is highly dangerous and its production, distribution, and transportation is restricted. Currently, only the US and Russia synthesize the isotope.

It is not the first time Turkish police have reported a major bust involving californium.

In a scare in March of last year, police in Ankara said they had seized a whopping 1.4kg of the same substance in a car following a tip-off. It turned out to be false alarm, as the haul was later found to have no trace of nuclear or radioactive material, and was, in fact, organic matter.

July 8, 2019 Posted by | incidents, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Turkey | Leave a comment

The Quake to Make Los Angeles a Radioactive Dead Zone

By Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News  06 July 19    Had Friday’s 7.1 earthquake and other ongoing seismic shocks hit less than 200 miles northwest of Ridgecrest/China Lake, ten million people in Los Angeles would now be under an apocalyptic cloud, their lives and those of the state and nation in radioactive ruin.

The likely human death toll would be in the millions. The likely property loss would be in the trillions. The forever damage to our species’ food supply, ecological support systems, and longterm economy would be very far beyond any meaningful calculation. The threat to the ability of the human race to survive on this planet would be extremely significant.

The two cracked, embrittled, under-maintained, unregulated, uninsured, and un-inspected atomic reactors at Diablo Canyon, near San Luis Obispo, would be a seething radioactive ruin.

Their cores would be melting into the ground. Hydrogen explosions would be blasting the site to deadly dust. One or both melted cores would have burned into the earth and hit ground or ocean water, causing massive steam explosions with physical impacts in the range of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The huge clouds would send murderous radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere that would permanently poison the land, the oceans, the air … and circle the globe again and again, and yet again, filling the lungs of billions of living things with the most potent poisons humans have ever created.

In 2010, badly maintained gas pipes run by Pacific Gas & Electric blew up a neighborhood in San Bruno, killing eight people. PG&E’s badly maintained power lines have helped torch much of northern California, killing 80 people and incinerating more than 10,000 structures.

Now in bankruptcy, with its third president in two years, PG&E is utterly unqualified to run two large, old, obsolete, crumbling atomic reactors which are surrounded by earthquake faults. At least a dozen faults have been identified within a small radius around the reactors. The reactor cores are less than fifty miles from the San Andreas fault, less than half the distance that Fukushima Daiichi was from the epicenter that destroyed four reactors there.

Diablo cannot withstand an earthquake of the magnitude now hitting less than 200 miles away. In 2014, the Associated Press reported that Dr. Michael Peck, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s site inspector at Diablo, had warned that the two reactors should be shut because they can’t withstand a seismic shock like the one that has just hit so close. The NRC tried to bury Peck’s report. They attacked his findings, then shipped him to Tennessee. He’s no longer with the Commission.

All major reactor disasters have come with early warnings. A 1978 accident at Ohio’s Davis-Besse reactor presaged the 1979 disaster at Three Mile Island. The realities were hidden, and TMI spewed radiation that killed local people and animals in droves.

Soviet officials knew the emergency shut-down mechanism at Chernobyl could cause an explosion — but kept it secret. Unit Four exploded the instant the rods meant to shut it down were deployed.

Decades before disaster struck at Fukushima Daiichi, millions of Japanese citizens marched to demand atomic reactors NOT be built in a zone riddled by fault lines, washed by tsunamis.

In California, ten thousand citizens were arrested demanding the same.  Diablo’s owners hid the existence of the Hosgri Fault just three miles from the site. A dozen more nearby fault lines have since been found, capable in tandem of delivering shocks like the ones shaking Ridgecrest. No significant structural improvements have been made to deal with the newfound fault lines.

The truly horrifying HBO series on Chernobyl currently topping all historic viewership charts shows just a small sample of the ghastly death and destruction that can be caused by official corruption and neglect.

Like Soviet apparatchiks, the state of California has refused to conduct independent investigations on the physical status of the two Diablo reactors. It has refused to hold public hearings on Dr. Peck’s warnings that they can’t withstand seismic shocks like the ones now being experienced so dangerously nearby. If there are realistic plans to evacuate Los Angeles and other downwind areas during reactor melt-downs/explosions, hearings on them have yet to be held.

In the wake of the 2011 explosions at Fukushima, the NRC staff compiled critical reforms for American reactors, including Diablo. But the Commission killed the proposed regulations. So nothing significant has been done to improve safety at two coastal reactors upwind of ten million people that are surrounded by earthquake faults in a tsunami zone like the one where the four Fukushima reactors have already exploded.

There are no excuses. These seismic shocks will never stop. Diablo is scheduled to shut in 2024 and 2025. But massive advances in wind, solar, batteries and efficiency have already rendered the nukes’ power unnecessary. A petition demanding Governor Newsom and the state independently investigate Diablo’s ability to operate safely is at

That petition began circulating before these latest quakes. The continued operation of these two reactors has now gone to a whole new level of apocalyptic insanity.  Be afraid.  Be VERY afraid.

Harvey Wasserman’s Green Power & Wellness Show is podcast at; California Solartopia is broadcast at KPFK-Pacifica, 90.7 fm, Los Angeles. His book The People’s Spiral of US History: From Deganawidah to Solartopia will soon be at

July 6, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Fire on Russian nuclear submarine: heroic crew prevented nuclear catastrophe.

Russia’s nuclear submarine disaster will test President Vladimir Putin and his navy. ABC News, By Alexey Muraviev  4 July 19, Russia’s Ministry of Defence has officially acknowledged an incident this week with one of its deep-submergence vehicles (DSV) within Russian territorial waters.

The incident seems to point to one of Russia’s most closely guarded naval assets — the Project 10831 AS-31 (AS-12) Kalitka (Norsub-5), more commonly known as Losharik.

It is named after a popular Soviet cartoon character because of its design specifications — a series of titanium spheres under the hull designed to withstand extreme water pressure.

A secret assignment    According to the latest reports, all those killed onboard were assigned to a secret naval unit stationed in St Petersburg, which is responsible for operations of Project 18510 Nel’ma (X-Ray) “autonomous deep-sea stations” — Russia’s official description of the DSV-type platforms — the AS-21 and the AS-35.

However, the declared number of casualties and the seniority of the deceased personnel is unclear. It is assumed the tragedy occurred onboard the AS-12, which has an estimated crew of some 25 officers.

All these special-purpose submarines are assigned to the 29th “deep water” Submarine Division based at the Gadzhievo submarine base on the Kola peninsula.

Formally assigned to the Russian Northern Fleet, the “deep-water” submarine division is under the direct control of the Russian Ministry of Defence’s GUGI Directorate, which oversees covert marine and naval activities ranging from deep-sea oceanographic research to covert testing of advanced sea-based combat systems, to undersea special operations.

Covert trials of a nuclear-armed torpedo?   While official word suggests the submarine was undertaking scanning of the seabed in one sector of the Barents Sea, the actual mission being undertaken may be different.It is possible the submarine was taking part in the covert sea trials of the Poseidon sub-sea strategic combat system (a large calibre nuclear torpedo) .

The tragedy would be the first reported large-scale fatality sustained by GUGI’s secret force.

But it cannot be compared with previous disasters involving Russian nuclear-powered submarines such as the RFS Kursk Oscar II class catastrophe back in 2000 or the incident onboard RFS Nerpa Akula IIclass back in 2008.

This disaster has happened within a unit designed specifically to operate in extreme physical environments where the safety and professionalism of the crew is a key to survival and success.

The crew comprises only middle-to-senior rank officers…….

Was a nuclear disaster averted?

It is understood that the fire onboard led to the fatal intoxication of more than half of the crew — about 14 out of some 25 onboard — and serious injuries of another four or five onboard.

Any submariner would concur that a fire onboard a submarine on deployment poses a serious risk. Fire onboard a nuclear-powered submarine is even worse.

While it is unknown what triggered that fatal fire, a mechanical failure or a human error, the fact is clear: the crew, at the cost of their lives, prevented a potentially major environmental disaster if the DSV had sunk to the bottom of the ocean, or exploded……

July 4, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Religion and ethics, Russia | Leave a comment

Local fishermen saw the Russian nuclear submarine accident

Fishermen witnessed nuclear submarine drama, The sub quickly surfaced and there were subsequent signs of panic on the deck, the local fishermen say. The accident might have been caused by a gas explosion. Barents Observer, By  Atle Staalesen,July 03, 2019

They were out doing illegal fishing and do not want to reveal their names. But the men who late Monday evening were onboard a small local fishing boat off the coast of the Kola Peninsula told news agency SeverPost that they witnessed what appeared as a state of emergency.

Eye witnesses

It happened around 9.30 pm near the Ura Bay, one of the witnesses says.

«We were heading towards Kildin, and then, about half past nine in the evening, a submarine surfaces. Suddenly and completely surfaces. I have never seen anything like it in my life. On the deck, people were running around and making fuss,» he told SeverPost.

The fishermen hid in nearby bay from where they saw that a navy vessel and two tugs quickly arrived on site. Around 11 pm, the vessels accompanied the submarine away from the area. There was no sign of smoke, they say.

Other locals later reported that they saw bodies being taken out of the submarine and to an approaching ship.

A source in the Russian Navy later told SeverPost that the submarine seen by the local fishermen was most likely the «Podmoskovie», the mother vessel of the special purpose submarine «Losharik» (AS-31). The «Podmoskovie» is a rebuilt Delta-IV class submarine designed to carry the much smaller «Losharik».

Sources in the Navy on Tuesday told Russian media that the accident had happened in the «Losharik». ……


July 4, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Russia | Leave a comment

Russia’s nuclear submarine fire: what is known so far

What We Know About Russia’s Deadly Nuclear Sub Fire So Far 3 July 19   Fourteen sailors were killed in a fire on board a Russian Defense Ministry research vessel while carrying out a survey of the sea floor off Russia’s Arctic coast.

President Vladimir Putin has dispatched Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to Severomorsk, the Russian naval base on the Barents Sea where the submarine is now located, to find out what caused the incident and report back to him.

Here’s what we know so far:

— The incident took place on Monday — nearly a day before the news was released — in Russian territorial waters in the Barents Sea, Shoigu reported to Putin.

— The 14 sailors died of smoke inhalation, Shoigu told Putin late on Tuesday.

— He said the crew extinguished the fire “through their decisive action.”

— A Navy commission has been tasked with investigating the cause of the tragedy and a military branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee has openedan inquiry into the deaths.

— The Defense Ministry had informed Putin of the accident on the day it occurred, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

The submarine

— Russian officials have not commented on the type of vessel involved in the deadly fire.

— An unnamed source in the security forces told the RBC news website the incident took place on the AS-31, a secretive deep-sea nuclear submarine.

— Launched in 2003, the submarine nicknamed Losharik was designed for research, rescue and special military operations, and can hold up to 25 crew members. — It is made from a series of interconnected spheres, making it stronger than conventional submarine designs and allowing it to resist water pressure at great depths.

— Analysts believe the vessel is a key asset of GUGI, the Defense Ministry’s Main Directorate of Deep-Sea Research, and not part of the Russian Navy. St. Petersburg’s news website and the Kommersant business daily reported that Losharik’s crew members allegedly belong to a military unit that reports to GUGI.


— The Defense Ministry has not released the names of those on board the vessel.

— Putin noted that of the 14 casualties, seven held the rank of captain 1st rank and two had held the Hero of Russia award, the highest military honor issued in the post-Soviet period. — Shoigu confirmed that there were survivors, but did not specify how many. Anonymously sourced reports suggested four to five crew members survived the fire.

— RBC, citing social media, listed four names of possible casualties. They include the son of the military unit leader; a submarine commander who holds captain 1st rank and Hero of Russia; and a second captain 1st rank.

— An Orthodox cathedral in Murmansk, a city north of Severodvinsk, has listed 14 names in its announcement of a service “for the fallen seamen-submariners” on Wednesday evening.


— Putin called the incident “a great loss for the [Northern] Fleet, and indeed for the Army.”

— Acting governor of St. Petersburg Alexander Beglov and Murmansk region governor Andrey Chibis expressed their condolences to the victims. — “The Losharik incident will likely have a deep operational impact on [GUGI], given how advanced and relatively few these submarines are,” a former U.S. National Security Council staffer told the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty news outlet.

— The United States has allegedly not received requests for assistance from the Russian government, a U.S. 6th Fleet spokesperson told the U.S. Naval Institute’s USNI News website.— Norwegian officials said they had been in touch with their Russian counterparts and were monitoring, but had not detected abnormally high levels of radiation.

— Colleagues around the world, including the U.S., will mourn the loss of 14 Russian sailors because of a “special bond between all submariners,” wroteWashington Examiner columnist Tom Rogan.

Past accidents

— This is the largest accident to take place on a Defense Ministry submarine since 2008, when a freon gas leak on the nuclear-powered submarine Nerpa killed 20 and injured 21.

— In August 2000, the Russian nuclear-powered submarine Kursk sank to the floor of the Barents Sea after two explosions in its bow, killing all 118 men aboard. That accident, soon after Putin took office, focused official attention on the state of the military and its hardware, which had been underfunded and neglected after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Russia | Leave a comment

14 Russian Sailors Killed in Fire on Nuclear Sub

14 Russian Sailors Killed in Fire on Nuclear Sub  3 July 19 Fourteen submariners on board a Russian Defense Ministry research vessel were killed in a fire while carrying out a survey of the sea floor off Russia’s Arctic coast, the ministry was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

The incident took place on the AS-31 deep-sea nuclear submarine nicknamed Losharik, an unnamed source in the security forces told the RBC news website. Launched in 2003, Losharik was designed for research, rescue and special military operations and can hold up to 25 crew members.

The fire broke out at 8:30 p.m. on Monday, RBC cited its source as saying, nearly a day before the ministry released the news. “On July 1 in Russian territorial waters a fire broke out on board a deep-water scientific research vessel that was studying the marine environment of the world ocean on behalf of the Russian navy,” Interfax cited a ministry statement as saying.

“Fourteen submariners died as the result of smoke inhalation … Work is underway to establish the cause of the incident. The investigation is being conducted by the commander-in-chief of the navy.”

The fire has been extinguished and the submarine is now at the Russian Northern Fleet’s base in Severomorsk on the Barents Sea, Interfax quoted the ministry as saying. The statement as cited by the agencies did not identify the type or model of the underwater vessel.

This is the largest accident to take place on a Defense Ministry submersible since 2008, when a freon gas leak on the nuclear-powered submarine Nerpa killed 20 and injured 21.

In August 2000, the Russian nuclear-powered submarine Kursk sank to the floor of Barents Sea after two explosions in its bow, killing all 118 men aboard.That accident, soon after President Vladimir Putin took office, focused official attention on the state of the military and its hardware, which had been subject to underfunding and neglect after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Since then, Putin has overseen a massive increase in military funding that has allowed the armed forces to renew their equipment and improve training and morale.

However, accidents have continued to happen as the military, used by the Kremlin to project its growing international muscle, has ramped up its activities and extended into new theatres of operation.

In December 2016, a Russian military plane carrying 92 people, including dozens of Red Army Choir singers, crashed into the Black Sea en route to Syria where Russian forces are deployed. Everyone on board was killed.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Russia | Leave a comment