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Russia says 'no threat' to environment as nuclear submarine fire put out

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By Seamus Kearney
Russia says 'no threat' to environment as nuclear submarine fire put out

Firefighters have reportedly put out a blaze on a Russian nuclear submarine which was undergoing repairs at a northern shipyard.

The state-owned management said there were no weapons on board and the vessel’s nuclear reactor had been shut down before the fire took hold.

The corporation said there was no threat of environmental or radioactive contamination. There were no reports of any casualties.

The dry dock at the Zvyozdochka shipyard, at Severodvinsk in the province of Arkhangelsk, was flooded with water to partially submerge the submarine and help put out the fire.

It is said to have started near the stern during welding work that caused insulation materials to be set alight.

The 949 Antei Oscar-class submarine, named Orel, is the sister vessel of the Kursk, which sank after a fire and explosion in 2000.

Russia’s nuclear submarine fleet has been involved in a series of accidents in recent years, and the authorities accused of hiding information.

In the worst disaster, in 2000, the Kursk nuclear submarine in the Murmansk region sank with the loss of 118 lives. The navy was criticised by Russia’s political leaders for hiding information.

In September 2013 a fire at Vladivostock was put out after five hours.

A fire in 2011 engulfed a nuclear-powered submarine carrying atomic weapons, according to a leading Russian magazine. Helicopters and tug boats were used to douse it with water.

The magazine said nuclear disaster was narrowly averted, despite official assurances that there was no threat.