It took Russian government officials two full days to acknowledge that an explosion that killed seven people Aug. 8, involved workers handling nuclear material at its Nyonoska missile testing site on the White Sea. Moscow has a long record of callous indifference to those living near its nuclear plants, including its deadly cover-up of the world’s worst nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986.
Russia’s weather agency, Rosgidromet, reported radiation levels in Severodvinsk, 18 miles from Nyonoksa, were up to 16 times higher than normal after the explosion. Workers posted photos of radiation monitors on social media. But the government only acknowledged the spike in radiation levels days later on Aug. 11.
The day before it also announced that two stations that monitor nuclear activity nearest to Nyonoksa, at Dubna and Kirov, had “communication and network issues” and were no longer able to provide information. The blast threw several staff members from Rosatom, the state nuclear agency, off a testing platform into the sea.
Thousands turned out for the funerals Aug. 12 of the workers killed.
Five days after the explosion Severodvinsk news announced that people in the village of Nyonoska, adjacent to the testing site, would be evacuated by train. But Igor Orlov, governor of the region, denied this would happen.
At local pharmacies there was a run on iodine tablets, which protect the thyroid gland against absorbing some radiation.
Workers injured in the explosion were taken to Arkhangelsk regional hospital. Doctors there told the Moscow Times that medical workers were never informed that the patients they were treating were radioactive. One doctor now has Caesium-137, a radioactive isotope, in his muscle tissue.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Severod-vinsk went on vacation.
Moscow’s cover-up at Chernobyl
The disastrous Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion in 1986 affected the atmosphere over some 8.4 million people. It highlighted the brutality and contempt for working people of the Soviet government in Moscow that had refused to construct a containment vessel for the plant that would have impeded the release of radiation. Stalinist officials did not immediately evacuate the area after the explosion and denied the death toll, but tens of thousands died or were stricken with cancer, maybe more.
In contrast to the response by Moscow, Cuba’s revolutionary government provided medical care free of charge to more than 25,000 Chernobyl victims, overwhelmingly children, from Ukraine between 1990 and 2011.
Washington says the explosion at Nyonoksa involved the prototype of a nuclear-powered cruise missile that Russian President Vladimir Putin previously boasted could avoid detection by missile defense systems.
Today Washington and Moscow have 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons.
Washington is the only government to have ever used them when it dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The Socialist Workers Party has always demanded that U.S. rulers dismantle their stockpile unilaterally, and calls on Moscow and all governments that have nuclear arms to do so as well.