News of the WeekNUCLEAR SAFETY

Secret of Soviet-Era Nuclear Blast Revealed

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Science  22 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5440, pp. 653-654
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5440.653a

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Summary

MOSCOW-- For the past 3 decades, rumors have circulated here that in the early 1970s an accident at the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy, in a residential suburb of Moscow, released a cloud of gas that drifted over the city, exposing the population to potentially harmful radiation. Late last month at a nuclear safety conference in France, a senior Kurchatov researcher discussed these events in public for the first time: There were two blasts at the institute in the early 1970s, he said, but although two technicians were killed, as far as Kurchatov scientists could tell, no radionuclides were released over the city.