Medics Who Treated Victims Of Radiation Explosion In Russia Sent For Tests
The explosion occurred on 8 August near Severodvink and killed five scientists; now, as many as 60 medics at Arkhangelsk Regional Clinical Hospital - where they have been treating the injured - have been sent to the capital for examinations, according to The Mirror.
One doctor is reported to have a radioactive isotope that is a byproduct of the nuclear fission of uranium-235 in his muscle tissue and 'was not informed about the amount or concentration of the isotope found', according to The Moscow Times.
Three victims arrived at the hospital wrapped in translucent bags on the day of the explosion - which alerted staff to the severity of the incident; however, they were reportedly not told about the radioactive spike caused by the explosion.
One surgeon told The Moscow Times: "No one - neither hospital directors, nor Health Ministry officials, nor regional officials or the governor - notified staff that the patients were radioactive.
"The hospital workers had their suspicions, but nobody told them to protect themselves."
Russia's top nuclear agency, Rosatom, claimed the accident occurred during tests of 'isotopic power sources in a liquid propulsion system'. However, experts have since said they believe the tragic incident happened during tests of a new nuclear weapon, Burevestnik.
According to reports, rocket fuel caught fire during the test close to the port city of Severodvinsk, causing an explosion.
Though it was initially claimed that there was no rise in the level of radiation, following the blast, local officials stated there was a 40-minute spike, reaching two microsieverts per hour before falling back to the normal level of 0.11 microsieverts.
The five engineers who were killed during the incident have been named as Alexey Vyushin, Yevgeny Koratayev, Vyacheslav Lipshev, Sergey Pichugin and Vladislav Yanovsky.
In a statement, Valentin Kostyukov, head of the nuclear centre at Rosatom, praised the bravery of the fallen.
He said: "The testers are national heroes. These people were the elite of the Russian federal nuclear centre and have tested under some of the most incredibly difficult conditions."
US-based experts have since cast doubt on Russia's official explanation of the explosion, as they claim a a liquid rocket propellant would not release radiation.
Jeffrey Lewis, an arms-control expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, believes the Russians were testing a new nuclear weapon known by NATO as 'Skyfall', and dubbed 'Burevestnik' in Russia.
Speaking to CNN, he said: "We are sceptical of the claim that what was being tested was a liquid propellant jet engine. We think it was a nuclear-powered cruise missile that they call Burevestnik."
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