‘There’s no danger. Get to work.’. Following a radioactive incident outside Arkhangelsk, Russia’s military didn’t warn medical staff about their contaminated patients

On August 8, at a launch site in Russia’s Arkhangelsk region, a rocket engine exploded. Two days later, state officials acknowledged that the accident resulted in a radiation leak. The victims in the explosion were taken to a hospital in Arkhangelsk, where the radioactive nuclide cesium-137 was later detected in the body of one of the doctors. Sources have confirmed to Meduza that none of the responding rescue workers or physicians were warned that they were treating irradiated patients. Hospital staff were informed about the risk of radiation only several hours after doctors started operating on the victims, and decontamination efforts didn’t begin until the next day. Most of the health workers involved in this incident have been sworn to state secrecy, but Meduza managed to speak to an employee at a rescue service whose staff administered first aid to the victims before they were hospitalized, and we reached a doctor at one of the hospitals where some victims were treated. In the text below, Meduza has changed both individuals’ names to protect their identity.