The wreck of a Soviet nuclear submarine that sunk off the coast of Norway in 1989 is showing levels of radiation up to 800,000 times above the normal level for the Norwegian Sea, scientists at Norway's Institute of Marine Research have said. It sank after a fire broke out on board on April 7, 1989, killing 42 of its 69 crew members.
But they say there doesn't seem to be any danger for the time being, because the radiation hasn't cracked unsafe levels, the pollution is quickly diluted within the seawater, and there aren't many fish that deep for fishermen to catch.
The remotely operated vehicle called Aegir 6000 examines the wreck of the Soviet nuclear submarine Komsomolets, southwest of Bear Island in the Norwegian Arctic, Norway, in this handout image released July 10, 2019.
Its front section has six torpedo tubes, and the sub could also launch Granit cruise missiles.
Last week, 14 Russian seamen were tragically killed onboard the nuclear submarine Losharik - with the idetails now classified as a state secret.
The survivors managed to get the mini-sub back to its Arctic base.
The radiation leak found this week came from a pipe near the reactor.
"Over the past few days we have also taken samples a few metres above the duct".
Heldal added that the radiation poses no threat to nearby fishing or scientific activities, and noted that continued monitoring is important "so that we have updated knowledge about the pollution situation in the area around the wreck".
These new results could indicate that the submarine has become risky.
The Norwegian radiation specialists and marine researchers were accompanied by experts from Russia's Typhoon Research and Production Association. They contained up to 800,000 times the normal amount of the element caesium, a metal that can be radioactive.
"The levels we detected were clearly above what is normal in the oceans, but they weren't alarmingly high", she said.
"We took water samples from inside this particular duct because the Russians had documented leaks here both in the 1990s and more recently in 2007", says the expedition leader Hilde Elise Heldal.
K-278 Komsomolets lies at a depth of about 1,700 meters (1 mile). Its maximum speed was 30 knots (56km/h).