Ecologists express concerns over sinked submarine Kursk in the Barents Sea

Russian ecologists have expressed concern over the ecological implications of the submarine accident in the Barents Sea.

The submarine “Kursk” has two nuclear reactors on board.

Ecologists in Murmansk say there is no immediate danger from the nuclear reactors, but the threat of nuclear contamination will grow while the ship is under water.

They say the submarine sank in shallow waters close to the shore, which means it could endanger marine flora and fauna in the area.

The stranded submarine normally carries up to 24 cruise missiles with nuclear warheads, but navy officials say the vessel wasn’t carrying any missiles when it sank.

116 sailors are still trapped in the submarine on the bottom of the Barents Sea.

SOUNDBITE: (Russian)
“There are some very strong underwater currents but I don’t think it plays such a major role in the rescue efforts that are underway now. A lack of rescue equipment seems to be more of a problem to me. The rescue capsule they use is not autonomous, it hangs on the ropes suspended from the surface ship, so it’s susceptible to weather conditions on the surface.”

SUPER CAPTION: Vladimir Borodkin, Director of the Knipovich Polar Sea Institute

SOUNDBITE: (Russian)
“The level of nuclear contamination threat depends greatly on what the sub crew has managed to do. From what we understand, the crew shut down the reactors so there is no immediate threat of fission materials spill. But the matter is for how long the damaged sub will remain on the sea bed. If it stays there for a long time, the ecological danger will grow significantly.”
SUPER CAPTION: Vladimir Borodkin, Director of the Knipovich Polar Sea Institute

SOUNDBITE: (Russian)
“The area of catastrophe, the southern part of the Barents Sea, is a very important fishing reserve. Our fishermen work there most of the year taking precious fish such as a cod. Apart from that, the area is important as a breeding pool for the fish of a much wider region. That is why any contamination would greatly affect the fish reserves.”
SUPER CAPTION: Vladimir Borodkin, Director of the Knipovich Polar Sea Institute

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