News / Europe

Russian Wildfire Threatens Nuclear Facility

James Brooke

As record hot temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius continue to bake Russia, wildfires threaten the nation's nuclear-weapons laboratory and other military facilities.  A thick haze of wood smoke blankets Moscow.

While 3,000 firefighters battle flames and try to protect Russia's main nuclear weapons laboratory, the head of Russia's nuclear agency sought to reassure the public that all radioactive materials have been removed.

Nuclear chief Sergei Kiriyenko told President Dimitri Medvedev all explosive and radioactive materials have been taken away.  He said he guarantees there is no danger to nuclear security, no threat of radiation, explosions, or environmental consequence.

Eight firefighting planes and 20 trucks are helping to keep flames out of Sarov, the location of the country's top-secret nuclear research facility and a city closed to foreigners.

With 400 new fires breaking out daily and wood smoke blanketing Moscow in a gray, acrid haze, President Medvedev cut short a working holiday in southern Russia and flew back to the nation's capital.

He found a city in which eye-watering smoke has infiltrated high-rise office towers and penetrated underground subway trains.  With visibility sometimes reduced to 30 meters, drivers switched on their headlights at midday.

A spokeswoman for Moscow's state agency for monitoring air pollution, Yevgenia Semutnikova, said air pollution is three to four times higher than normal.  She said even healthy people should minimize their exposure to pollution and should avoid being outdoors during peak pollution hours.

Russia's chief doctor, Gennady Onishchenko, recommended people wear air filter masks in the city and only exert a "minimum of physical activity."  

Health experts say pollution levels in Moscow have climbed so high that living in the city is as damaging as smoking several packs of cigarettes a day.   

Since last week, wildfires have killed 48 people and destroyed 2,000 homes.  Responding to the emergency, Italy, Ukraine and Azerbaijan, have sent firefighting aircraft to Russia.

Meanwhile, President Medvedev publicly reprimanded the Navy Commander in Chief and fired the head of Naval Aviation and six other high-ranking officers for their part in trying for five days to cover up a disastrous fire at a storage depot near Moscow.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Secret Service Head: White House Security Lapse 'Unacceptable'

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid