A fire broke out on Sunday at a Moscow nuclear research centre that houses a non-operational 60-year-old atomic reactor, emergency officials reported as Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom said the blaze had not been accompanied by any open flames and posed no threat of a radiation leak.
While the cause remains undetermined, Sergei Vlasov, a spokesman for the Moscow branch of the Emergency Services ministry, told Reuters that fire has begun in a basement.
Sergei Novikov, a spokesman for Rosatom, remained mum about whether any nuclear or radioactive materials remained in the six-decade old heavy water reactor, though they said the reactor is non-operational. He said that firefighters were pumping foam into the affected area, and that the institute’s heavy-water research reactor was no longer operational, the Reuters report said.
Grey smoke was reported by witnesses to be rising above the institute, which is encircled by a wall as bitter smell filled the air, Reuters reported. Interfax cited a police source as saying fire brigades were denied access to the facility for “a long time” before being allowed in. Some 30 emergency vehicles, including fire trucks and ambulances, stood inside and outside the main gate of the institute, witnesses told the news agency.