However, scientists noted that other samples from the same duct did not contain elevated levels of radiation.
“We took water samples from inside this particular duct because the Russians had documented leaks here both in the 1990s and more recently in 2007,” said Expedition Leader Hilde Elise Heldal, in a statement. “So we weren’t surprised to find high levels here.”
Heldal said that the radiation levels are not dangerously high, citing the permitted limit for radioactive caesium in food. “After the Chernobyl accident in 1986, Norwegian authorities set this limit to 600 Bq/kg”, she explained. “The levels we detected were clearly above what is normal in the oceans, but they weren’t alarmingly high.”
“What we have found during our survey has very little impact on Norwegian fish and seafood. In general, caesium levels in the Norwegian Sea are very low, and as the wreck is so deep, the pollution from Komsomolets is quickly diluted,” Heldal said.
“Over the past few days we have also taken samples a few meters above the duct. We didn’t find any measurable levels of radioactive caesium there, unlike in the duct itself” added Justin Gwynn, a researcher at the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (DSA), in the statement.
The joint Norwegian-Russian expedition set off Saturday from Tromsoe, northern Norway, to study the wreck site. The Norwegian research vessel G.O. Sars arrived at the sub’s location Sunday and sent down AEgir 6000, an undersea drone, to analyze the vessel and capture eerie footage of the wreck.
Video shows the ghostly mangled wreckage of the submarine’s hull, its conning tower, a propeller and a torpedo.
Russia has suffered a number of high-profile submarine disasters.
Last week, 14 Russian seamen died in a fire on a Russian Navy research submersible in the Barents Sea. Officials withheld details of the tragedy, citing the utmost secrecy of the vessel’s mission. Russia’s Defense Ministry said the sailors were killed by toxic fumes from the fire. Some others survived the fire but the military hasn’t said how many.