THE WRECKAGE of a Soviet nuclear submarine is leaking high levels of radiation into the sea, according to a new report.
The sub, called Komsomolets, sunk in the Barents Sea off the Norwegian coast after a fire in 1989 and the nuclear radiation it is emitting is much higher than expected.
Clouds arose from the submarine as the researchers used their equipment to test radiation levels in the surrounding water[/caption]
A joint Russian and Norwegian investigative team have recently been testing radiation levels at the site and found that the submarine is leaking radiation which is up to 100,000 times higher than the normal radiation levels in the sea.
Despite the high figures, the scientists say that the radiation levels still aren’t high enough to be a threat to them or the surrounding sea life.
The wreck is lying on the seabed one mile beneath the surface and this isn’t the first time that higher than normal levels of radiation have been detected around it or in the particular ventilation duct that was tested.
Expedition leader Hilde Elise Heldal said: “We took water samples from inside this particular duct because the Russians had documented leaks here both in the 1990s and more recently in 2007.”
Why is radioactive waste dangerous?
Nuclear waste is hazardous for numerous reasons…
- Nuclear waste is a byproduct of nuclear fission, which is a reaction caused when atoms are thrown together to create energy and end up splitting into tiny particles
- These particles are highly unstable and can cause cells in the body to malfunction, leading to cancer and cell death
- Long term exposure to nuclear radiation can leave people with incurable illnesses but the changes in their bodies are often not apparent until it is too late
- Nuclear powerplants are good at creating lots of energy to power the World but there is no current 100% safe way to store their waste
- If storage facilities are not sealed properly then radiation can leak out into the environment, resulting in lots of diseases and the death of animals and ecosystems
The scientists collected their results using a remote submarine and said they saw an “occasional cloud” rising from the ventilation pipe.
They think this pipe could be in direct contact with the radioactive content on the vessel.
Dr Heldal told Norway’s TV2 broadcaster: “We have observed a kind of cloud coming out of this hole once in a while.
“In connection with the test in which we measured pollution, a cloud came out of the hole. This may indicate that the pollution comes out in pulses.”
The wreckage and this ventilation hole will now be monitored more closely and the study results will help scientists to work out the pollution risk posed by Komsomolets.
Why did the Komsomolets nuclear submarine sink?
Here's what you need to know about the fatal submarine accident…
- On April 7 1989, a fire broke out in the engine room of the Soviet Komsomolets nuclear-powered submarine
- It was at a depth of 335 metres at the time
- The fire spread, broke the nuclear reactor which was powering the submarine and the propulsion was lost
- The submarine still managed to make it to the surface and most of the crew abandoned the vessel
- 43 of the 69 crew members died due to the incident, most of them due to developing hypothermia as they floated in the cold sea waiting to be saved
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In other news, a pair of shipwrecked WW2 submarines have vanished from sea near Malaysia – and the bodies inside are missing too.
The wreck of the last slave ship that ferried 100s of captives from Africa to the US illegally has been found.
And, we recently revealed the spookiest shipwrecks visible on Google Maps.
Are you worried about the impact of nuclear radiation? Let us know in the comments…
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