Author Topic: Archangelsk and White Sea on Lockdown - Radiation spike after missile test fail  (Read 979 times)

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Offline Chris Pook

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On Monday, a massive fire set off explosions in an arms depot at a base in Siberia (Image: GETTY)

Quote

A RUSSIAN naval base is on a mysterious month-long lockdown after an accidental missile explosion at the base was linked to a sudden radiation spike in the region.
By OLI SMITH
PUBLISHED: 11:43, Fri, Aug 9, 2019 | UPDATED: 13:33, Fri, Aug 9, 2019
   
.... a rocket engine explosion on a naval test range in northern Russia was linked to a shock radiation spike. The Kremlin have confirmed the “rocket engine explosion” killed two people and injured six. There are mounting concerns that the explosion took place during the testing of a new nuclear missile.

Local people were reportedly urged to take precautions against radiation.

Adding to the fears, the Archangelsk base where the explosion took place has since been placed on emergency lockdown, with the nearby White Sea also closed.
 
A Russian expert told the BBC that the Russian Ministry of Defence has refused to disclose the details behind the mysterious lockdown of the base.

Dr Mark Galeotti said the incident was “clearly a bigger issue than the Russians are letting on”.

While the Ministry of Defence has rejected claims of a radiation leak, city officials in nearby Severodvinsk reported a radiation spike between 11:50 and 12:30 before falling and normalising by 14:00.

Dr Galeotti said: “This depot seems to have been used for the testing of one of Russia’s new liquid-propelled nuclear missiles - it is a highly secretive.

“The official response from the Defence Ministry has been ‘nothing to see here, no spike in radiation, no leak in radiation’.

“All we seem to know is the number of dead and injured, and that it was a rocket test. The rest is gossip."

The Russian expert added: “They have closed off a large swath of the adjoining White Sea to shipping for a month.

“Despite what the Kremlin have said, there must have been some sort of radiation leak - and they want people to not just stay out of harm’s way, but also don’t want people coming to the site with Geiger Counters.

“The Defence Ministry is trying to play this down. It is clearly a bigger issue than they are letting on."

He went to claim "we know the Russian authorities have a tendency to lie in a crisis situation", but highlighted in the modern age they are "able to get away with much less".

Dr Galeotti also suggested that, in his opinion, "this was an accident that clearly involved a nuclear missile , which has led to a radiation leak".

A woman in Severodvinsk named only Alina told Russian news site lenta.ru: "I work in the hospital where they're bringing the injured.

"They advise everyone to close their windows and drink iodine, 44 drops per glass of water."

Children in local kindergartens were taken indoors after the blast and parents were advised not to take them outside in the evening.

Link

Interesting turn of events.

Also - https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/08/explosion-military-base-russia-arkhangelsk

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Offline milnews.ca

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Nooooooooooothing to worry about according to RUS (state) media ...
Quote
Explosion Hits Military Unit in Russia's North: at Least 2 Killed, 4 Injured -- The incident at the Nenoks training ground resulted in two deaths, a source in the region’s law enforcement said, adding that the radiation level is normal ...
... oh, wait (also from RUS state media) ...
Quote
Missile engine blast at testing site in northern Russia kills two -- A rise of the radiation level was registered ...
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Offline Retired AF Guy

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USNI is reporting that the explosion occurred near the village of Nyonoksa, which is just west of Severodvinsk.

The missile test area is just north of the town of Nyonoksa. (see attached photos). If you have Google Earth you can zoom-in and get more detail of the testing area.

Images from Google Earth.

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Offline tomahawk6

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A Russian nuclear space rocket blew up spreading some nuclear debris and causing 5 deaths and some injuries.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/russia-nuclear-agency-says-5-dead-in-missile-test-explosion/ar-AAFCXHl?ocid=spartanntp

Offline milnews.ca

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Latest from Russian state media ...
... and Russian independent media ...
... as well as others:

* - 9M730_Burevestnik (Wikipedia - usual caveats)
** - Screen capture of Rosatom English statement attached - text of Russian version attached as first PDF
*** - Original source article text in Russian attached as second PDF
« Last Edit: August 10, 2019, 19:55:33 by milnews.ca »
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Offline Brihard

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What is a “nuclear powered cruise missile”? I’m struggling to wrap my ahead around an accident like this causing a major radioisotope release. I’m not aware of radioisotopes being of any use for propulsion in a terrestrial or atmospheric setting?

I imagine there will be some rather squirrely ops being conducted to try to get some isotope samples, maybe a few interesting flights over the pole or some hairy submarine stuff...
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Offline milnews.ca

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What is a “nuclear powered cruise missile”? I’m struggling to wrap my ahead around an accident like this causing a major radioisotope release. I’m not aware of radioisotopes being of any use for propulsion in a terrestrial or atmospheric setting?
I'd like to know more, too - although I suspect at least some of this is pretty high-level scientific secret squirrel stuff.

The English statement from RUS's atomic energy folks uses the phrase "a liquid propulsion system involving isotopes."

Google Translate says the Russian-language version of the statement says "The tragedy occurred during the period of work related to the engineering and technical support of isotopic power sources in a liquid propulsion system" (for anyone that reads Russian and can provide more insight, it's "Трагедия произошла в период работ, связанных с инженерно-техническим сопровождением изотопных источников питания на жидкостной двигательной установке."

Any rocket surgeons out there that can give us an accurate/brief/clear breakdown?  ;D

I imagine there will be some rather squirrely ops being conducted to try to get some isotope samples, maybe a few interesting flights over the pole or some hairy submarine stuff...
:nod:

Co-incidentally, it also appears Finland has real-time radioactive monitoring online here, with a map showing Severodvinsk around 470 km east (as the crow flies) of the western-most FIN monitoring station.  :pop:
« Last Edit: August 11, 2019, 07:20:53 by milnews.ca »
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Offline Oldgateboatdriver

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Well, Asymetrical Dimethylhydrazine (usually referred to as just hydrazine) is definetely a recognized rocket fuel. It's a very stable coumpound at just about any temperature while in liquid form, but becomes highly explosive in gaseous form at the proper intermix with oxygen.

In a rocket, it is usually kept in liquid form in the tank, with liquid oxygen as the fuel intermixer. Both are injected in the engine's bell at low pressure, and so vapourize instantly, and are ignited to propel the rocket. Cut the flow of either and the engine shuts down.

From the description in the articles above, I can't figure out how any nuclear product could play a role.

This is way over my paygrade, but I note that the Americans seem unsurprized, so they may already have an inkling of the science behind all this.

Purely as a speculation here: In a hydrazine fueled rocket, the LOX is much more voluminous then the hydrazine, so using such engine for a hypersonic, or even regular, cruise missile would make the damn thing pretty big. In the atmosphere, we obviously have oxygen as part of the composition of gaz available everywhere, but it is difficult to extract it fast enough to maintain the intermix properly in a hydrazine fueled engine. That is why even in the atmosphere, those engine cary their own LOX. Again, I am speculating here, but perhaps the Russians have been working on a reaction with nuclear isotopes as catalysts to extract oxygen more efficiently and thus, at a sufficient rate to provide the engine with oxygen without the need for onboard storage of LOX. That would be a big breakthrough in atmospheric rocket engines.

I note here, however, that if that is the case, and when you consider the radiation that just resulted from this accident, I would hope that this propulsion is only considered for nuclear armed missile (becasue causing a little bit more radiation when you nuke someone is not an issue), not for classic explosives used for conventional attacks - where the irradiation of an area much larger than the explosion would result from any use.

Offline SeaKingTacco

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I was reading up on SLAM, which was a late 1950s USAF project for a nuclear powered ramjet cruise missile. Basically, a small nuclear reactor heated the incoming air to a point which made the ramjet work at much lower speeds than a conventional ramjet. If it all worked as advertised, it was supposed to have been  able to drive a cruise missile at Mach 4.2 @ 30,000ft for a range of 114,000NM (yep- 4 times around the globe). The US abandoned the project because ICBMs came on line at around the same time- which were cheaper, faster and more immune to being countered. And even in those days, they were a bit freaked out by the radiation hazard of this engine (they actually benched tested the engine).

It could be that the Russians have brought this project back from the dead and are using a conventional booster rocket to get the cruise missile off the ground and up to operational speed before the ramjet takes over. If the conventional rocket fails in some way, you end up nuking your own launch point...

Offline Blackadder1916

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It could be that the Russians have brought this project back . . .

Nothing new or speculative in that supposition.

https://thediplomat.com/2018/03/russia-reveals-unstoppable-nuclear-powered-cruise-missile/
Quote
Russia Reveals ‘Unstoppable' Nuclear-Powered Cruise Missile

Putin announced a new high-yield intercontinental-range cruise missile purportedly capable of penetrating any missile defense system.

By Franz-Stefan Gady  March 02, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced during his annual State of the Nation address on March 1 that the Russian defense industry has begun developing an intercontinental-range nuclear-powered cruise missile capable of penetrating any interceptor-based missile defense system.

“We’ve started the development of new types of strategic weapons that do not use ballistic flight paths on the way to the target. This means that the missile defense systems are useless as a counter-means and just senseless,” Putin said in his speech.

“One of them is creation of a small-size highly powerful nuclear power plant that can be planted inside the hull of a cruise missile identical to our air-launched X-101 or the United States’ Tomahawk, but at the same time is capable of guaranteeing a flight range that is dozens of times greater, which is practically unlimited,” he added.

. . .
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Online Good2Golf

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..,Purely as a speculation here: In a hydrazine fueled rocket, the LOX is much more voluminous then the hydrazine, so using such engine for a hypersonic, or even regular, cruise missile would make the damn thing pretty big. In the atmosphere, we obviously have oxygen as part of the composition of gaz available everywhere, but it is difficult to extract it fast enough to maintain the intermix properly in a hydrazine fueled engine. That is why even in the atmosphere, those engine cary their own LOX. Again, I am speculating here, but perhaps the Russians have been working on a reaction with nuclear isotopes as catalysts to extract oxygen more efficiently and thus, at a sufficient rate to provide the engine with oxygen without the need for onboard storage of LOX. That would be a big breakthrough in atmospheric rocket engines.

Hydrazine is usually combusted hypergolically with (di)nitrogen-tetroxide, not LOX, as both hydrazine and nitrogen-tetroxide are fairly stable stored under reasonable pressure with no temperature control factors required by LOX.  Hydrazine has a ~744 Kg/M3 density and Nitrogen-tetroxide 1440 Kg/M3 , so the ‘fuel’ tank will be ~2x bigger than the oxidant tank, not really bad compare to other liquid fuels like RP-1 or methane.

I think the isotopes came from an inerted warhead (why they’d have on on, who knows), vice a catalytic use of isotopes to catalyze the fuel
Or oxidant.

:2c:

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Offline milnews.ca

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A few more tea leaves to read via Bloomberg …
Quote
The failed missile test that ended in an explosion killing five scientists last week on Russia’s White Sea involved a small nuclear reactor, according to a top official at the institute where they worked.

The institute is working on small-scale power sources that use “radioactive materials, including fissile and radioisotope materials” for the Defense Ministry and civilian uses, Vyacheslav Soloviev, scientific director of the institute, said in a video shown by local TV.

The men, who will be buried Monday, were national heroes and the “elite of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center,” institute Director Valentin Kostyukov said in the video, which was also posted on an official website in Sarov, a high-security city devoted to nuclear research less than 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Moscow.

The blast occurred Aug. 8 during a test of a missile that used “isotope power sources” on an offshore platform in the Arkhangelsk region, close to the Arctic Circle, Russia’s state nuclear company Rosatom said over the weekend. The Defense Ministry initially reported two were killed in the accident, which it said involved testing of a liquid-fueled missile engine. The ministry didn’t mention the nuclear element …
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"OK, folks, gotta go!"  "Oh, my bad - not so fast"
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The Russian military on Tuesday told residents of a village near a navy testing range to evacuate, but cancelled the order hours later, adding to the uncertainty and confusion fueled by a missile explosion last week that led to a brief spike in radiation that frightened residents and raised new questions about the military’s weapons program.

Initially the military told residents of Nyonoksa, a village of about 500, to move out temporarily, citing unspecified activities at the range. But a few hours later, it said the planned activities were cancelled and rescinded the request to leave, said Ksenia Yudina, a spokeswoman for the Severodvinsk regional administration.

Local media in Severodvinsk said Nyonoksa residents regularly receive similar temporary evacuation orders usually timed to tests at the range.

The Defense Ministry initially said Thursday’s explosion of a rocket engine at the navy range killed two people and injured six others, but the state-controlled Rosatom nuclear corporation said two days later that the blast also killed five of its nuclear engineers and injured three others. It’s still not clear what the final toll is.

And just as the Severodvinsk administration reported a brief spike in radiation levels, the Defense Ministry insisted that no radiation had been released — a blunt denial reminiscent of Soviet-era attempts to cover up disasters that added to public nervousness ...
More @ link
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