Aug 15, 2019 10:24 AM EDT
Thirty-three years have passed since the infamous Chernobyl disaster, the world's largest and most severe nuclear explosion to date. The only other time the world has experienced anything remotely similar to Chernobyl was Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.
Unfortunately, Russia has just recently experienced another massive nuclear explosion. The incident happened on an arctic naval test range on August 8, while a nuclear-powered engine was being tested near the village of Nyonoksa, to the west of Severodvinsk.
It was originally reported that two people died and six were injured as the Russian military was releasing very few details. It was later reported that the explosion actually killed five scientists, left three more scientists with severe burns, and multiplied radiation levels of some nearby areas 16 times over.
Russia's Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring-or Rosgidromet-said that readings for gamma radiation at several testing stations in Severodvinsk ranged from four to 16 times the normal rate of 0.11 microsieverts per hour. Severodvinsk has a population of roughly 180,000 people.
Nuclear experts claim that this spike in radiation isn't enough to bring any harm to humans, pets or livestock.
The Kremlin said in a statement this past Tuesday that "accidents, unfortunately, happen" and refused to elaborate any further. Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Kremlin did say however that Russia's nuclear engineering sector "significantly outstrips the level that other countries have managed to reach for the moment."
After initially reporting a 40-minute spike in radiation levels, the Russian agency has since deleted the online post stating that "this incident comes under the authority of the defense ministry."
The defense ministry has since stated that "there have been no harmful chemicals released into the atmosphere, the radiation levels are normal."
In true Russian fashion, conflicting stories about a civilian evacuation have been reported as well. Some locals claim they were asked to leave their homes in lieu of military operations with local officials confirming the statement. However, other Russian officials, like regional governor Igor Orlov, called the evacuation reports "complete nonsense." Reports were later made that the proposed exercises had been canceled.
Other, seemingly conflicting reports out of Russia is exactly what type of rocket exploded. At first, the defense ministry said that it was a liquid-fuel rocket engine that had exploded. However, it was later reported by the Rosatom that it was, in fact, a "radio-isotope propellant source" and had exploded offshore, on a platform.
Speculation has also arisen on just how secretive the Russians are being. Some speculate that the explosion could have involved a nuclear-powered cruise missile known as the "Burevestnik." Vladimir Putin had spoken of such missiles in an address to the Russian Parliament last year.
President Donald Trump weighed in via Twitter and said that the US was in fact "learning much" due to the missile explosion and said that the US has "similar, though more advanced, technology."
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