A liquid-fueled rocket engine exploded at a military test site in the Arkhangelsk region of Russia on Thursday, killing two people and wounding four others.
The Russian Defense Ministry initially denied that any form of contamination was released in the explosion, but later said that a “short-term spike in radiation levels” was detected in the nearby city of Severodvinsk.
According to Russia’s Tass news agency, local officials in Severodvinsk discovered the radiation spike after the Defense Ministry stated radiation remained at normal levels. The officials said background radiation levels returned to normal soon afterward.
The explosion occurred at a missile testing facility used by the Russian navy. A fire resulted from the explosion, but the regional governor said there was no reason to evacuate civilians from the surrounding area. One source said the explosion and fire occurred while civilian specialists were working on a ship at the facility.
“Six representatives of the Defense Ministry and of the manufacturer have sustained injuries of varying severity at the scene. Two specialists died of sustained wounds. All victims were rushed to hospital and provided medical assistance,” the Defense Ministry stated.
A Russian port official announced on Thursday that the Dvina Bay area of the White Sea will be closed to shipping for a month as a consequence of the explosion.
A much larger explosion occurred at a Siberian arms depot on Monday, prompting the evacuation of civilians from the surrounding area and the nearby city of Achinsk.