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we got lots of feedback from viewers

last night and today about a story we

did in the back half of last night's


where our guest was a nuclear expert

named Joe sermon Sione the story was

about a mysterious explosion that

happened Thursday last week in Russia

and I know from the feedback that we got

from you guys that the news as of last

night about that explosion as we were

able to present it here on the show

wasn't just dramatic news about a big

explosion it was very concerning news I

could read that in your feedback

well the story has become considerably

more dramatic and more concerning today

so I want to start tonight with a little

bit of an update on that

now as I mentioned the explosion in

question happened last week Thursday in

the far northwest of Russia on the White

Sea at a military site and after

whatever it was that happened there

Russian authorities put out an initial

statement admitting that there had been

a fatal accident but they provided very

few details on what had happened they

said two people had been killed in an

explosion that involved a missile at a

military testing facility they said two

people were dead both military personnel

they said four people were injured but

they went out of their way to tell the

public that this was definitely nothing

to worry about in a wider way this was

definitely in particular nothing new

clear the Defense Ministry put out a

statement saying quote there was no

release of toxic materials into the

atmosphere and the radiation level is

normal ah that always makes you feel

reassured right whenever anybody tells

you the radiation level is normal

despite that statement from the Defense

Ministry a pretty good-sized city about

20 miles away from that military site

the site of the explosion posted a

statement on their city website

announcing that in fact they had

detected a spike in local radiation

levels as again about 20 miles away 25

miles away from the blast site people in

that city saw that notice on their

city's website and raced out to local

pharmacies to try to protect themselves

people bought out local supplies of

iodine which potentially can protect

your thyroid from absorbing too much

ambient radiation which is one of the

first and most acute cancer risks that

is posed by nuclear fallout

the local concerns about there being

some radioactive component to that

explosion were bolstered by local press

reports that the people who had

responded to the explosion the first

responders who were seen at the site of

the facility where the blast happened

they all appeared to be wearing hazmat

suits for some reason so that bolstered

those fears about radioactive

contamination but still that was sort of

circumstantial evidence I'm sure nobody

quite knew what to think after Russian

authorities demanded that that city take

down the references on its city website

to the spikes and radiation levels they

had noted at the municipal level but by

Saturday the nuclear / radioactive

element of this disaster was confirmed

by the Russian government Russia state

nuclear agency said five of its

employees had died in the blast

as well so that announcement contained

two important conclusions right for the

people of northwestern russia number one

the death pole was not - as they had

initially been told it was to military

personnel and five additional personnel

from the nuclear agency the other piece

of information you get from that because

that statement came from the state

nuclear agency that confirmed that the

accident was nuclear in nature I mean

you're not gonna kill five nuclear

scientists in one explosion unless

they're there for a reason because

you're doing something with nuclear

power or nuclear weapons that statement

from the Russian nuclear agency also

admitted in very vague jargony terms

that while yes the government had

initially announced this was a Miculek

Splosion the the nuclear agency said

that this missile involved a quote

propulsive system involving isotopes

which is the most Awkward possible way

of saying that this was a nuclear fueled

missile this is what we knew as of last

night this is the basis for our

reporting last night you've seen people

like Joe Cirincione and also Jeffrey

Lewis and other nuclear experts and

weapons experts here on NBC and at other

news outlets talking about this trying

to explain this accident the seriousness

of this what kind of test might have

gone so wrong that produced this fatal

accidents also this scary cage enos and

secrecy from the Russian

about whether there's a threat here to

the civilian populations nearby the site

of the accident

I think nobody at this point can say

they definitively know for sure but at

least the consensus of the Western

speculation is that Putin's government

might have been trying to test the sort

of missile that he promised in last

year's State of the Union address which

he described as a missile that was a

nuclear missile not in the sense that it

was armed with a nuclear warhead it

would be a conventional missile a cruise

missile essentially but it would be

powered by a nuclear reactor right so

you can imagine instead of a

conventional rocket like some sort of

conventional jet propulsion system what

Putin has been threatening to build but

the u.s. actually tinkered with in the

50s and 60s and then abandoned as a

terrible idea

what Putin may have in fact been testing

in northwestern Russia here on the White

Sea when this went so drastically wrong

late last week could be this idea of a

missile that has a conventional warhead

on it but it is powered by nuclear

energy it is a missile that is fitted

essentially with a flying nuclear

reactor which is the kind of thing that

of course would be very bad news for the

world if it works but well short of that

there's about a gazillion different ways

that could be very bad news for the

world when it fails and say blows up at

a military testing facility on the White

Sea on a Thursday afternoon well today

the story got considerably worse than it

had been even as of last night today

Russian military officials apparently

visited a town that's even closer to the

blast site than this city that had

announced that it noticed this spike in

radiation levels right after the blast

according to local news reports

residents in this very nearby city

we're told that they should plan to

evacuate their city but just for a few

hours which is kind of an odd request

right or an odd demand they'd have to

evacuate their city tonight and into

tomorrow for a few hours even though the

explosion was last Thursday why would

you have to just stay away for a few

hours and now only days after it all

happened then you're able to come back

and everything's fine

it's an odd request right an odd demand

from the government doesn't make much

sense on the surface it was nevertheless

made all the more dramatic by the fact

that they sent a special train into that

town to take all the residents away so

maybe that's what they were planning on

doing excuse me and why that nearby town

had to empty out maybe might have been

but if that had initially been their

plan they apparently canceled it which

is like the one even more unnerving

thing you can do in that circumstance at

the end of the day today authorities

announced never mind

yes they had been planning an evacuation

for this little town but that was now

off whatever they were going to do that

they wanted to evacuate the town for

they're no longer gonna do it

everything's fine now actually you guys

can all just stay never mind imagine if

you live in that town the governor of

that region is now actually insisting

that there was never any evacuation

planned at all

never mind the Train we sent in there

and all the rest of it the governor from

the local region now telling the press

that any claims that there was an

evacuation planned are quote nonsense he

says actually this is all a quote

routine measure nothing out of the

ordinary here what are you looking at

keep moving similarly President Vladimir

Putin spokesman in Moscow Dmitry Peskov

has been humming that same tune telling

reporters today that quote security is

fully insured quote all agencies that

are competent in this situation are

supporting the complete safety of

Russian citizens Washington Post has

both a great editorial and some great

reporting on this today including from

Pulitzer Prize winning reporter will

England who's writing on the crisis from


he knows today that a Russian federal

agency as of today now admits to the

radiation spikes they admit that the

Defense Ministry was wrong this weekend

when they said there had been no

increase in radiation they're admitting

in effect that the local city was

correct when they said they had noticed

a spike in radiation that means they're

implicitly admitting it was wrong for

Russian authorities to tell that city to

take that information off their website

since that information was in fact

correct today the government is

confirming that in fact radiation levels

spiked up

sixteen times normal levels but then

reporter will England's dispatch from

Moscow ends with this slightly even more

disturbing report quote a website called

Davina today reported that ten workers

at the regional clinical hospital who

had treated the victims of the explosion

flew to Moscow on Monday and were taken

to the federal medical and biophysical

center quote there was no word on why

the doctors from the Archangel Regional

Hospital had been taken to Moscow that I

believe was the first report in the

Western press that the medical personnel

the doctors and the medical personnel

who have been helping the people who

were hurt in this blast might themselves

be in trouble that was the first report

in the West the essence of that has now

been confirmed by multiple sources in

Russia including tasks and Interfax and

Novaya Gazeta and as of tonight the New

York Times is reporting it as well

here's how the Times sums it up quote a

regional news site northern News

reported that doctors at a civilian

Hospital in Archangel the largest city

in the region who first treated victims

of the accident

had not been informed of the radiation

danger after treating the patients the

doctors at the regional Clinical

Hospital found that their scrubs were

causing radiation meters to click the

patients who were hurt in the initial

blast had been taken to Moscow the rooms

where those patients had lain in the

Regional Hospital were sealed after the

patients were taken away but then also

the doctors who treated those patients

were then transferred to Moscow for

their own medical evaluations according

to The Times Hospital employees are in a

depressed state they don't understand

why doctors and nurses who were

fulfilling their professional duties

were treated in this way and our Times

quoting regional news sources in Russia

their Washington Post editorial on this

crisis also links to this video

reportedly shot nearby the blast site as

you can tell it shows a line of

ambulances that are purportedly taking

the injured away from the contaminated

site what is a little unnerving towards

the end of this footage is that if you

look closely when we get a look at the

back of some

these ambulances it appears that the

back of these ambulances the doors where

they would put patients in and out are

sealed with some kind of plastic film

and it's being speculated that that may

be some sort of effort to try to seal in

any radiation that could be emanating

from the bodies of the people in the

back of those ambulances and so looking

from the outside in as we are from

another country and as many Russian

citizens are right trying to permeate

this fog of nonsense and misinformation

that is coming from their own government

on this for all of us looking from the

outside in I mean one there's big

picture concern about what exactly the

Russian government was doing when this

nuclear accident happened right

what exactly they're trying to build

here what exactly is it that blew up

what was this supposed to be beyond that

though the pit in your stomach about

this is about the extent of the cover-up

and and what it is that they're not

letting people know about what's going

on each day of the news since the

initial blast on Thursday has gotten

worse every revision to what we

understand has been more serious not

less but the deeper pit in your stomach

may not just be about the cover-up but

about the cleanup

what kind of cleanup or salvage effort

is underway here I mean when they sent

that special train into the little town

near by the military site today that

special train that was initially

supposed to evacuate the town local

civil authorities gave a statement to

the Interfax news agency that gave some

clues as to what at least the locals had

been told was the reason for their

temporary evacuation order quote the

leadership of the ninotchka non-oxygen

formed us of planned activities of the

military authorities it was advised that

residents of nanaka

should depart the territory of the

village from August 14th

what planned military activities well

local TV outlet reported today according

to the New York Times that residents

have been told they had to get out ahead

of early tomorrow morning because

something was going to happen at that

nearby military base where the explosion

had happened something was going to

happen there between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Wednesday morning tomorrow morning and

so people had to be out of there before

that window of time when lord

what was going to happen at the site of

the disaster and nobody could be in a

nearby town quote the possibility of

evacuating the area raised the question

of whether authorities see a continuing

threat from Thursday's explosion or if

they may be preparing to retrieve the

radioactive source potentially posing

new dangers quote on Saturday one

Russian state news agency said the

explosion on the test platform had

knocked the scientists who died into the

sea suggesting the reactor or whatever

remained of it also wound up in the


one authority on radiation safety and

Russia telling The Times in an interview

that the military might have to quote

fish the damaged reactor from the seabed

so maybe that's what they were planning

on doing tomorrow morning between 5 a.m.

and 7 a.m. local time and they thought

it might be really dangerous to the

nearby town and so they told everybody

to get out but now maybe they're not

doing that how are they cleaning up this

site what is it exactly they have to

clean up and how dangerous is it to

people nearby not to mention the people

who are part of this response and they

didn't tell the doctors there was a

radiation hazard when the patients came

in from the blast site now the doctors

themselves are being treated one of the

things the arms control expert Jeffrey

Lewis has been raising a red flag about

is the fact that a very specialized ship

has been noticed nearby the blast site

in the white sea it's a specialized ship

that's used for collecting and storing

liquid nuclear waste so there's

something going on that appears to

involve maybe liquid nuclear waste and a

potential cleanup effort and a potential

but aborted evacuation and the doctors

are getting sick I mean just step back

from this for a second this is not as

bad this is not what we understood last

night and what we understood last night

is bad what we understand now is that

apparently Russia is maybe trying to

make weaponized flying nuclear reactors

and it's going badly they had a

catastrophic accident that appears to be

related to that weapons program on

Thursday at least seven people are dead

from that accident hospital rooms where

the injured were treated have been

sealed off at the Regional Hospital

there are reports that the medical

personnel who interacted with the dead

and wounded have themselves now had to

be medevac to Moscow because of


radiation exposure the local government

nearby appears to have been correct

about radiation levels spiking even as

the Russian government and the Russian

military initially denied that they're

now admitting it's true they were

apparently going to try to attempt

something in the early morning hours

tomorrow that they believe should

occasion the evacuation of the closest

town to the testing facility but now

that evacuation including the special

train they sent in for that purpose all

of it has been called off the regional

governor is you know reassuring

everybody by saying actually none of

that ever happened where'd you hear that

the ambulances are being sealed off in

plastic sheeting everybody at the

response site is in hazmat suits I mean

if if a spewing experimental nuclear

reactor that just killed seven people

has been cast into the sea who do you

call to fix that problem and what

dangers does it pose is you try to fish

it out I mean we'll stay on this story

but we've only been following it for a

couple of days and it's exponentially


and part of continuing to follow what

we'll be trying to figure out if you or

anyone in Russia can trust anything that

the Russian government says about what

is actually happening on its own soil

including about the threat that may be

posed here to civilians certainly

including the first responders and the

medical personnel and whoever is

involved in whatever this cleanup effort

now is and I mean it is it is one thing

to trust your government in good times

when you generally approve of what they

are doing when things are generally

going well but can you trust them in a

crisis do you trust them in a crisis if

you can't trust them in a crisis how

much worse can bad times get hey there

I'm Chris Hayes from MSNBC thanks for

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The Description of Radiation Containment A New Concern In Russian Nuclear Incident | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC