“Having the exact coordinates for the lost container of radioactive material with the reactors from K-19 is undoubtedly good news,” says nuclear safety expert Andrey Zolotkov.
The crew on “Akademik M. Keldysh with the help of sonars and submersibles found the container. Both marine researchers, oceanology experts from Russia’s Academy of Science and representatives of the Ministry of Emergency Situations are working together in the expedition team to clear out radioactive pollution. Russia’s Foreign Ministry previously invited international experts from the other Arctic nations to a June 2021 conference on how to recover the sunken radioactive and hazardous objects dumped by the Soviet Union on the seafloor east of Novaya Zemlya.
Meanwhile Rosatom said on 8 September that it had taken part in the first pilot research exercises run by the Russian Ministry for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters (Emercom). During the “Safe Arctic” exercises.
The military exercise
Safe Arctic” was a large-scale Emercom pilot research exercise held on 7 and 8 September in seven Arctic regions. The participants included representatives of foreign emergency agencies and diplomatic corps of the Arctic Council participating countries: Finland, Norway, Canada and the USA. The operator was the Roscongress Foundation. Discussion of emergency response in the Arctic zone followed ministerial meeting on 20 May 2020. The 2020 briefings then explored how the Arctic Council contributes to a better understanding of Arctic change, including actions it takes to address the challenges facing Arctic ecosystems and biodiversity, conservation, health concerns and pollution issues, and how it contributes to safe and sustainable development of the Arctic.
And its not just reactors that are causing concern. Russia’s first floating nuclear power plant sails from the Arctic port of Murmansk to provide power to one of the country’s most remote regions, sparking environmental concerns. Environmental protection groups, including Greenpeace, have expressed their concerns over potential safety issues. The plant, loaded with nuclear fuel, will replace a coal-fired power plant and an aging nuclear power plant supplying more than 50,000 people with electricity in the town of Pevek. It will also power mining and drilling operations in the region.
More than a 45 portable American and Russian nuclear reactors have being removed from Antarctica in 2019, with at less one malfunctioning. New Zealand Owen Wilkes in the national archives also documents in his papers how a similar malfunction in Greenland melted a hole in the ice during the 1970’s and the contaminated area was simply permitted to freeze over. Issue one of DEADLINE 2003, based on official information document identified the MV Greenwave as bring back waste from a US reactor allegedly damaged in 1991. This 1990 report by the Antarctic Society also confirms the Green Wave carried nuclear waste a claim denied during my 2003 investigation, by the National Radiation Labratory.
Fast forward Putin top General Yevgeny Zenichev died in an accident. His death puts the spotlight on more than 6,000 personnel involved in one of Russia’s biggest ever rescue and emergency exercises in the Arctic. The exercise is organised by the Ministry of Emergency Situations which Zenichev commanded and unfolds across the Russian Arctic from Murmansk in the west to Chukotka in the East. It includes a total of 12 emergency scenarios, and up to 18 federal government institutions are involved. The exercise takes place in the period 7-8th September.
Zinichev died while trying to save documentary filmmaker Alexander Melnik, 63, who had fallen into icy water while filming an Arctic military drill. The Kremlin dismissed other accounts of the circumstances surrounding Zinichev’s death as “blasphemous, untrue fabrications.”
Zinichev was ranked General of the Army as of 2020. From 2006 until 2015, Zinichev worked in the personal security of the Presidential Security Service of the Russian Federation, accompanying the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin (from 2008-2012), on working trips.
On 15 January 2020, Zinchev resigned as part of the cabinet, after President Vladimir Putin delivered the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, in which he proposed several amendments to the constitution. He was reinstated on 21 January 2020. The proposals would see a redistribution of power away from the presidency and any potential successor towards parliament. In Mr Putin’s new vision, the Duma would be granted powers to choose a prime minister and cabinet. The Federation Council, Russia’s upper chamber, would gain powers over the appointment of security officials. The constitutional position of the State Council, which Mr Putin currently heads, would also be strengthened. Some believe Putin was grooming Zinichev to be his heir.
Prior to his sudden death Zinichev monitored three training scenarios in the Dudinka area; a fire onboard a icebreaker carrying chemical substances, and an oil spill and subsequent fire at an oil tank facility. Other scenarios include a fire onboard floating nuclear power station, an air crash in Tiksi and a cruise ship accident in the Kola Bay. The exercise finished just before the start of the major military drills Zapad-21. The lion’s share of the latter will be held in Belarus and parts of western Russia. However, like previous exercises like the Zapad-17 extensive military training is expected to held also in other regions, include the Arctic. Few days before the exercise concluded, representatives of the Ministry of Emergency Situations met with the Russian Armed Forces to discuss cooperation on so-called military-political activities in connection with the Zapad-21.
The Arctic exercise was held following an order from President Vladimir Putin. It is also organised as part of Russia’s chairmanship period in the Arctic Council, and a conference held in connection with the event on the 7th of September took place under the logo of the international organisation. Earlier this year, Russia took over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council. During the AC summit in Iceland this spring, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that Russia’s term will be about the people in the Arctic, in particular indigenous people.
Apparently unrelated the Minister of Emergency Situations on Sept 8 (Reuters) also had to deal with a gas explosion on Wednesday in a nine-storey block of flats in a city near the Russian capital killed three people and damaged apartments, a law enforcement agency said. five of the building’s 73 apartments were damaged and that 173 residents had been evacuated. It is located near the Noginsk training centre of the VA Strategic Missile Forces. Less than an hour after the Noginsk blast, the Emergency Situations Ministry said another gas explosion rocked an apartment building in Russia’s fourth-largest city of Yekaterinburg home to nuclear and biological facilities. Sept 6th Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) detained four supporters of the IS terrorist organization (outlawed in Russia), who were plotting attacks in Ingushetia, in particular against law enforcement officers with the use of explosive devices, FSB Public Affairs department told TASS on Monday.