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Radioactive leak from the wreck of a Soviet submarine - video

Scientists investigating the wreck of the Soviet submarine Komsomolec have discovered a radioactive leak. It turns out that the wreck of a Soviet submarine that sank in the Barents Sea as a result of a fire, in 1989, emits unusually high levels of radiation. The whole matter was reported by a specially appointed Russian-Norwegian research
Published: July 14, 2019 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 18:24
Radioactive leak from the wreck of a Soviet submarine – video

Scientists investigating the wreck of the Soviet submarine Komsomolec have discovered a radioactive leak.

It turns out that the wreck of a Soviet submarine that sank in the Barents Sea as a result of a fire, in 1989, emits unusually high levels of radiation. The whole matter was reported by a specially appointed Russian-Norwegian research team after samples were taken and tests conducted.

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The nuclear threat

The Soviet submarine K-278 Komsomolets, was a nuclear-powered submarine of project 685 codenamed “Plawnik”, introduced into service in 1984. In its time the ship was one of the most modern remaining in the service of the USSR. It sank on 7 April 1989 as a result of a fire. At that time 42 out of 69 crew members died, most of them (39) as a result of hypothermia while waiting for rescue.

Due to its contents, the wreck of the Komsomolec is still of interest and has been the target of several research expeditions. All because, in addition to nuclear propulsion in the form of the PWR OK-650b-3 reactor, the vessel was equipped with, among other things, two WA-11 Szkwał supercavitating torpedoes with a nuclear warhead.

Radioactive leak on the wreck of the submarine K-278 Komsomolec
The submarine Komsomolec sank in 1989 as a result of a fire
Hand on the pulse

Since its sinking, the wreck resting at a depth of 1,680 metres has been monitored by scientists on successive expeditions. Until now, however, its hazardous cargo has not given cause for concern. Unfortunately, the latest data are extremely alarming.

As for the radioactive spill, a remotely operated ROV took water samples. As a result of the analyses, the scientists determined that one of the readings indicated that the radiation standard was exceeded by a hundred thousand times. Now The samples collected will be sent to to further research that will help to better understand the situation.

The researchers reassure that their latest findings are only a preliminary reading for now and further, more detailed studies are needed on the wreck. Besides, despite such high readings, radiation levels do not threaten fishing or scientific teams working in the area.

It is likely that over the next few years, Russian scientists will increase the intensity of their research. Further expeditions to the wreck of the Komsomolc seem to be a matter of time, as the possible consequences of neglect may be lamentable.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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