An explosion on a decommissioned nuclear submarine being cut up for scrap metal at a northern Russian shipyard killed at least one person and seriously injured another, an emergency official said Monday.
According to the Associated Press, the blast at the Zvyozdochka plant on the White Sea took place at 8:32 a.m. aboard a submarine that had already been stripped of its nuclear fuel and reactors, said Igor Grigoriyev, a spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry in the Arkhangelsk region.
Officials at the Defense Ministry and the Federal Atomic Energy Agency said they had no information on the incident. Shipyards officials could not be reached for comment.
Russian news reports said the submarine was a Victor-class vessel that normally has two reactors on board.
Grigoriyev said a welding torch apparently
ignited fuel vapors that had built up in one compartment of the submarine. One of the workers was killed and the second was hospitalized in intensive care, he said. The fire was extinguished around 9 a.m., he said.
Arkhangelsk is located about 600 miles north of Moscow.
Since the 1991 Soviet breakup, the United States and other Western countries have provided several billion dollars to help Russia dismantle and destroy its weapons under arms control agreements.
Much of the work has involved dismantling nuclear submarines in an environmentally friendly manner at Arkhangelsk, less than 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle.