A Soviet nuclear submarine that sank off the coast of Norway in the Arctic Barents Sea in 1989 is emitting high levels of radiation, researchers said.
The Komsomolets was a nuclear-powered, titanium-hulled attack submarine equipped with two torpedoes carrying nuclear warheads.
A joint Norwegian-Russian team of scientists said Wednesday that a remote-controlled mini-sub had taken samples near the wreckage and found the level of radioactivity at the site was up to 100,000 times higher than normal.
While Russia and Norway have monitored radiation levels annually since the sub sank, it is the first time a submersible was used to conduct the tests.
“This is, of course, a higher level than we would usually measure out at sea, but the levels we have found now are not alarming,” said expedition leader Hilde Elise Heldal of the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research.
Radioactivity levels “thin out” quickly at these depths and there are few fish in the area, she said.
The Komsomolets lies at a depth of about 1,700 meters (1 mile). It sank after a fire broke out on board, killing 42 of its 69 crew members.