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BARNAUL, August 25 (Itar-Tass) — Experts of the Russian Federal Consumer Rights Protection and Human Health Control Service (Rospotrebnadzor) department for the Altai Republic will for five days be taking samples of soil and water in the Choisky (Choya) district of the republic where fragments of the Progress spacecraft presumably fell. This will make it possible to fully control the situation with the potential contamination of the environment with the rocket fuel heptyl.
The agency told Itar-Tass on Thursday that the samples will be analysed for the presence of toxic substances in them. On Thursday, Rospotrebnadzor experts are taking the first samples in the area of the launch vehicle’s fall.
Analysis of water in the Biya River that is an affluent of the Ob River, has not shown that there are rocket fuel traces in it, the agency said. According to the republic’s Rospotrebnadzor department, no health deterioration among residents of the Choisky district has been registered.
All the people who were in the taiga in the area of the fall of the Progress spacecraft debris have returned to their settlements unharmed, the administration of the Karakoksha village of the Choisky district of the Altai Republic near which a fragment of the rocket supposedly fell, told Itar-Tass on Thursday.
Earlier, the Prosecutor General’s office reported that four teams of loggers comprising 10 people could be staying in the space debris fall area.
“All the 10 people have returned. All of them are well,” the head of the Karakoksha village said.
According to earlier reports, debris of the cargo spacecraft Progress that failed to reach the designated orbit after launch towards the International Space Station on Wednesday has fallen on the ground 50 kilometres away from Karakoksha in the Choisky district of the Republic of Altai, southern Siberia.
The territorial branch of the Ministry for Emergency Situations and Civil Defence (EMERCOM) said preliminary information indicates there are no victims or destructions the site of the crash. “Only a powerful explosion has been registered,” an EMERCOM source said. At the time of reporting, the ministry’s helicopters were still unable to leave for a mission to the area where the debris had collapsed. Search groups will have the task of examining the Bizhelbik natural preserve area that is located in a remote part of the Republic of Altai and is rugged with the taiga. “It’s a place difficult to approach by land and by air likewise,” a police source in the Choisky district told Itar-Tass.
Dr Alexander Puzanov, a deputy director of the Siberian Institute for the Studies of Water and Ecology Problems, believes the downfall of the debris will unlikely bring up any large-scale emergency situations. He watched the lift-off of the Soyuz-U carrier rocket, which was supposed to take the Progress into orbit, at the Baikonur Space Centre in Kazakhstan. “There’s no clear understanding at this stage of what exactly happened (to the Progress),” Dr Puzanov said. “The debris fell on a mountainous terrain and that’s why it can scarcely pose danger to anyone.” “As for the rocket fuel, it burned out in the atmosphere,” he said adding that he himself would go to the zone of the spacecraft’s collapse Friday and would join the search operation on the ground.
In the meantime, sources in the Russian aerospace and rocket industry told Itar-Tass the Progress was carrying about 800 kilograms of heptyl for the ISS needs.
Residents of the town of Choya, the administrative centre of the district, said they had learned about the accident with the Progress from the mass media. “We didn’t hear any explosions at all,” a man living in Choya told Itar-Tass when he was asked about whether or not some media reports were correct in claiming the explosion produced by the spacecraft’s fall had been heard a hundred kilometres away from the site. “Everything’s quiet here,” the man said. “We’re enjoying a regular night typical for August.”