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Russia admits nuclear reactor blew up during missile test 250 miles from Moscow

Nuclear power reactor fuel assembly at the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrate Works. (Ruslan Krivobok/Wikimedia Commons)
August 12, 2019

Russia confirmed that last week’s explosion involved a nuclear reactor during a failed missile test at a site just 250 miles from Moscow.

Five nuclear scientists were killed during the Aug. 8 explosion, which occurred during the launch of a missile that involved a small nuclear reactor, according to a report by Bloomberg on Monday.

Russia’s state-run nuclear agency Rosatom had confirmed Saturday that the explosion killed several of its employees in a test of an “isotope power source in a liquid propulsion system.”

Vyacheslav Soloviev, scientific director of the institute that conducted the test, said they are working on power sources using “radioactive materials, including fissile and radioisotope materials” for government and civilian applications.

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Institute Director Valentin Kostyukov said the five scientists killed in the blast were “elite of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center” and considered heroes, The Guardian reported Monday.

After the explosion was revealed, it was suspected that a nuclear reactor was involved in powering a cruise missile.

Radiation levels initially spiked up to 20 times normal levels and spread to neighboring cities, but reports have not indicated further dangerous levels this week.

Russia did not initially provide details on what had caused the explosion, but did state that radiation levels had returned to normal levels.