After an explosion at a Russia military base, how do locals feel about their safety?

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By Vladislav Zenkov, Naira Davlashyan, Emma Beswick
After an explosion at a Russia military base, how do locals feel about their safety?
Copyright  Belomorkanal

Despite rumours that there is radiation in the area, the inhabitants of the small Russian village of Uyma, near Severodvinsk, have continued to pick mushrooms and berries as they do at the start of every autumn.

"We catch fish and in the garden, we eat everything — berries too. Since the president said everything is fine, what is there to be afraid of?" one local resident told Euronews.

In early August, during tests at a nuclear facility 40km from the village of Nenoksa, in the Arkhangelsk region, an explosion claimed the lives of seven people.

Read more: Russian engineers buried after rocket explosion at Arctic test site

At the beginning of this week, local journalists found two radioactive pontoons on the shore of the White Sea near Nenoksa, which they alleged were used during the tests that ended in the explosion.

In a video that they shot of a Geiger counter in the area, which measures ionizing radiation, the measurement a short distance from the pontoons reached 154 Micro Roentgen per hour (mR/hr).

The head of Rospotrebnadzor, the federal service responsible for the supervision of consumer rights protection and human wellbeing in Russia, Anna Popova, called for caution concerning studies on the level of radiation in the Arkhangelsk region that have been carried out by non-specialists.

"Specialists checked the threat level ... there is no risk to public health," she said.

It is still not known what exactly caused the explosion or, environmental campaigners claim, the real effect it had.

At the end of August, Roshydromet, the Russian government's environmental monitoring service, published the isotopic composition of the incident, but environmentalists say that the information provided is insufficient to assess the risks to local residents.

“On the one hand, we understand that there was no significant pollution,” said Rashid Alimov, Greenpeace Russia’s Energy Program Project Manager told Euronews.

"On the other hand, we can't rule out that there was fallout in some places more than in others.

"This could theoretically lead to local pollution. And also, we don't know anything about the degree of pollution in the sea."