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05 July 2017

Russian war monument turns out to be radioactive

 

Gun installation in Arkhangelsk, RussiaImage copyright
Dmitry Surin/VKontakte
Image caption

Children enjoyed playing on the gun installation

A Soviet-era anti-aircraft gun in a public park in Russia’s far north has been leaking radiation over 150 times the safe level, it seems.

It only came to light recently, although the Second World War monument has been on public display in the city of Arkhangelsk for a good four years. The discovery was made by local man Dmitry Surin, who told BBC Monitoring that he had decided to check the city’s main landmarks with his portable radiation counter “out of sheer interest”.

Image copyright
Dmitry Surin/VKontakte
Image caption

The detector shows 4.99 when the safe levels are only 0.30

He certainly did not expect to see such high figures, and promptly shared his findings on the popular social network VKontakte. The park, commemorating the victory over Nazi Germany, is popular with locals and tourists, and children especially like clambering over the gun installation.

Dmitry rang the Emergencies Ministry and was surprised with the swift reaction. “They took me seriously, and the incident response team arrived within half an hour. The gun was removed by midnight,” he said.

People on social media have reacted with dismay to the news that the monument was dangerous. “It was standing there for years, and kids were constantly climbing on it. It’s horrible,” said Pavel Zyukov on VKontakte.

As to why the installation is radioactive, Dmitry thinks it’s a “matter of radioactive parts that somebody forgot to remove before putting the gun on display”. The city mayor’s office says the gun was acquired from the Defence Ministry in 2013 and had “passed all the required checks”, the local KarelNovosti website reports.

The gun has now been taken to an Emergencies Ministry base outside the city, and will undergo further checks. Dmitry himself takes a philosophical approach – “It could happen anywhere, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much, or else you go mad.”

Image copyright
Dmitry Surin/VKontakte
Image caption

Dmitry shows the cordoned-off site

 

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