Scientists: evidence of the nuclear explosions on Novaya Zemlya continue to poison the Arctic

MOSCOW, 14 Nov – RIA Novosti. Russian oceanographers found on the Western coast of the New Land traces of the radionuclides released into the soil of the island after a series of nuclear tests in the 1960s, to gradually fall into the waters of the Arctic ocean, according to an article published in the Russian journal of Oceanology.

“The study of samples of ice from the Northern ice dome New Lands has not yet revealed areas with high radioactivity. However, the study has provided the first opportunity to obtain information about a previously unexplored glacier and find out where it is contaminated by radiation layer,” — said Alexey Miroshnikov Institute of Geology of ore deposits, petrography, Mineralogy and Geochemistry Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, whose words transfers the Russian scientific Fund.

Since the mid-1950s, the New Land was a kind of “epicenter” of nuclear tests in the Soviet Union. All in the North and South Islands of the archipelago was detonated 224 nuclear devices, including thermonuclear the famous “Tsar-bomb”, whose combined capacity exceeded 265 megatons of TNT. After the signing of the three environments in 1963, terrestrial and underwater nuclear testing was stopped, but non-nuclear tests and experiments related to the work of nuclear weapons continues in local landfills so far.

Last year Miroshnikov and his colleagues at IGEM RAS made an expedition to Novaya Zemlya on Board the research vessel “Akademik Mstislav Keldysh”, headed by corresponding member of RAS Mikhail flint. In addition to Oceanographic problems, in the framework of the expedition of the Russian scientists also studied how these nuclear tests affected the glaciers of the island, its soils and bottom sediments.

These measurements revealed unexpected thing – was that the so-called Northern ice dome, the glacier that covers the North-Western part of the New Earth, contains a trace of radioactive contamination left over from the days 50 and 60 years of the last century.

Collecting soil samples at the edge of this ice array, scientists have documented extremely high levels of cesium-137, reaching 420-650 Becquerel per kilogram (decay of unstable nuclei per second), which was positive proof that the ice of the New Earth at the present time have started to get rid of radioactive contamination of the last century. For comparison, the maximum permissible level of radioactivity for water samples according to EU regulations is 370 Becquerel per kilogram, and according to the norms of Japan – 10 becquerels per kilogram.

More radionuclides domestic scientists found in the dust on the surface of the Blue glacier, located 300 kilometers South of the Northern ice dome – the level of radioactivity in each kilogram of ice or soil exceeds 1230 Becquerel per kilogram. The source of this contamination, judging by the presence of traces of americium in the ice and soils could only be atmospheric nuclear testing, the scientists conclude.

Distribution map of radioactive contamination after the nuclear tests on Novaya Zemlya