Ukraine: Forest near Chernobyl Exclusion Zone on fire
Russia was put on nuclear alert on Friday (July 14) after a cylinder containing depleted uranium ruptured, killing one person.
The incident happened at the Ural Electrochemical Plant that is owned by the state institution Rosatom.
The plant enriches uranium for use in nuclear power stations and is the largest of its kind in the world.
More than a hundred employees of the plant were ordered to report to the Novouralsk hospital for medical check ups.
Doctors had holiday leave cancelled and those already vacationing were ordered to report back to duty, according to local reports.
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Yuri Mineev, the deputy director of the plant and Vyacheslav Tyumentsev, the mayor of Novouralsk, insisted there was no danger to local residents and urged them not to panic.
The officials said that the background radiation at the enterprise and beyond was normal.
The technician who died was killed by a “mechanical injury” caused by a breach in a container of uranium hexafluoride, a chemical compound used in uranium enrichment.
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A spokesperson for Rosatom said: “We are deeply saddened to announce a tragic incident at the Ural Electrochemical Plant, resulting in a worker fatality.”
They added that the depleted form of the compound was less radioactive than natural uranium.
Russia has suffered a number of major nuclear accidents in the past, which authorities attempted to conceal from the public.
This has led many in Russia to disbelieve their officials when it comes to announcements about nuclear safety.
In 1957, a waste tank exploded at the Mayak nuclear facility in Russia, releasing around two million curies of radioactive waste into the air.
The explosion exposed at least 22 villages to radiation, and is now considered the world’s third-worst nuclear accident, behind Fukushima and Chernobyl.
But details of the incident were sparse until 1992, when government records were declassified after the fall of the Soviet Union.
As late as 1982, a US technical report still referred to the disaster as “alleged.”
Around 270,000 people were said to be living on the contaminated land, but within two years of the accident, only 11,000 residents had been evacuated.
Soviet officials tried to claim that the “radiation situation” near the Chernobyl plant had been “stabilised” after the meltdown of a nuclear reactor in April 1986.
The then Deputy Minister for civil aviation, Mikhail Timofeev, told reporters at the time: “Rumours are a little exaggerated. It is not a catastrophe. It is an accident.”
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