As reported by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, a container with a nuclear reactor of the submarine K-19 was found in the Kara Sea. This was said by the head of the Central Air Mobile Department “Centrospas” Evgeny Lineitsev.
Currently, an expedition is searching for sunken radioactive objects in the Arctic Ocean. Representatives of the special units of the Ministry of Emergency Situations “Tsentrospas” and “Leader” together with scientists of the Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences are investigating the bottom of the Kara Sea with the remote-controlled robot “Falcon”.
“The ship “Akademik Mstislav Keldysh” reached the planned location and anchored off Abrosimov Bay. As part of the work, a sonar survey was conducted and the container with the K-19 nuclear reactor was discovered,” Lineytsev wrote on Facebook.
Experts plan to examine the find, perform spectral analyses and sample plant material from the surface.
During the Soviet period, the Kara Sea became a real repository for radioactive “waste”. While the mentality in Soviet times was ‘out of sight, out of mind’, the Kara Sea seemed the ideal dumping ground.
For years, nuclear waste was disposed of here. Among them are parts of the icebreaker “Lenin”, including its nuclear reactor, as well as numerous other objects. According to records, there are more than fifteen nuclear reactors in submarines, as well as 5 decommissioned obsolete nuclear submarines in the area. In addition to reactors and submarines, some 17,000 objects were sunk in the Kara Sea between the late 1960s and the early 1990s.
The Ministry of Emergency Situations is compiling a list of such properties on behalf of the government, which now contains more than 24,000 names. These are solid radioactive waste, chemical toxins and munitions, which are mainly located at depths of up to 500 metres.
The K-19 nuclear submarine was the Soviet Navy’s first nuclear-powered submarine with ballistic nuclear weapons on board. The three missiles had a range of 650 km. The launching took place in October 1959. In November 1960, the State Commission signed into law the completion of state testing and the nuclear submarine was placed in service.
The story of the K-19 submarine is dramatic. For the Soviet Union, it became a symbol of nuclear power, the most important trump card in the Cold War, and for many sailors who served on it, it became a ruthless killer. The crew of the submarine experienced terrible disasters in different years – the danger of a nuclear explosion because of overheated fuel rods, a collision with the American submarine “USS Gato” and a fire on board with 28 deaths were only some irregularities. Because of these dramatic events, the American filmmakers who made the documentary about the K-19 called the submarine “the Widowmaker,” and the sailors themselves still call it “Hiroshima.” In April 1990, the K-19 was retired from the fleet and disposed of.
Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal