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

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers 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.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid