Much loved Russian Second World War monument proves to be radioactive

7 July 2017

For the last four years children in Arkhangelsk, a city in Russia’s Extreme North, have enjoyed playing on a Second World War-era anti-aircraft gun on their trips to the park. Now their historical climbing frame has been taken away, after a local man discovered that the monument was leaking radiation over 150 times the safe level.

Dmitry Surin made the remarkable discovery when he decided to take his portable radiation counter on a tour of Arkhangelsk’s key landmarks. Upon measuring such high radiation levels around the Soviet-era gun, which is set within a popular park dedicated to the victory over Nazi Germany, he contacted the Emergencies Ministry, who promptly removed the apparently dangerous installation.

“They took me seriously, and the incident response team arrived within half an hour. The gun was removed by midnight,” Mr Surin told BBC Monitoring.

He also posted his findings on Russian social media site VKontakte, causing consternation among local residents, horrified that children had been playing on the gun throughout its four-year residency in the park.

While Mr Surin believes it is simply a “matter of radioactive parts that somebody forgot to remove before putting the gun on display”, the Arkhangelsk city authorities assert that the gun was acquired from the Defence Ministry in 2013 and had “passed all the required checks”, according to local new site KarelNovosti.

Despite the public alarm his discovery has unleashed, now that the gun has been relocated to an Emergencies Ministry base outside the city to undergo further checks, Mr Surin thinks there’s little point in worrying: “It could happen anywhere, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much, or else you go mad.”

Source: BBC News