Moscow, 25 August 2000 (RFE/RL) - Russia's prime minister and nuclear industry executives assured the public today that the nuclear submarine lying at the bottom of the Barents Sea poses no threat to the environment. The leader of a team that designed the nuclear reactors said they shut down within a minute of the explosion that sank the submarine two weeks ago.
Aleksandr Kiryushin said the reactor safety systems prevent a radiation leak, and there is no danger of them restarting or blowing up.
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said the level of radiation at the accident site is normal. Environmentalists are concerned that radiation could eventually leak.
In Vydyaevo, the city where the Kursk was based, a deputy prime minister (Valentina Matviyenko) gave relatives of the dead sailors the first payments of a state compensation package today. NTV television channel said some relatives declined to meet the minister.