Forum - A Sunken Cold War Nuclear Sub Is Leaking Radiation At Levels 800,000 Times Normal
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Post 158683       July 11 '19 at 11:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's be-afraid-be-very-afraid department:
Using a robotic sub, a team of investigators has detected traces of radiation leaking from Komsomolets -- a Soviet nuclear submarine that sank 30 years ago in the Norwegian Sea. The recorded radiation levels are unusually high, but scientists say it's not threatening humans or marine life. Gizmodo reports: On April 7, 1989, while cruising at a depth of 380 meters (1,250 feet), a fire broke out in the aft section of Komsomolets, a Soviet nuclear-powered attack submarine out on its first patrol. Its captain managed to bring the beleaguered sub to the surface, but it sank about five hours later. All 42 sailors were killed in the incident, known as the Komsomolets disaster. The 120-meter-long (400-foot) nuclear submarine still rests some 1,700 meters (5,575 feet) below the surface of the Norwegian Sea, about 320 kilometers (200 miles) north of the Norwegian mainland.

And it's leaking radiation, according to a press release issued by Norway's Institute of Marine Research (IMR). The amount of cesium radiation leaking from the wreck is significant, at about 800,000 times the typical reading for the Norwegian Sea, but it "poses no risk to people or fish," according to a collaborative research team involving IMR and the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (DSA). A leaking radioactive sub certainly sounds scary, but this research suggests the wreck is not currently endangering the Norwegian Sea and outlying areas. Normally, radiation levels in the Norwegian Sea are at 0.001 Becquerel (Bq) per liter. Around the wreck, however, they are as high as 100 Bq per liter. For reference, the acceptable amount of radiation in food is 600 Bq per kilogram, as established by the Norwegian government in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster.