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Scientists in Siberia rejected on Tuesday a farmer's claim
Scientists in Siberia rejected on Tuesday a farmer's claim that four of his horses were killed by toxic pollution from part of a carrier rocket that fell nearby.

In early March, Sergei Kazantsev told district authorities in southwest Siberia's Altai Republic that in the year since a fragment of a rocket launched from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan fell near his herd of horses, four of the horses had died.

However, the deputy head of the regional Institute for Water and Ecological Problems, Alexander Puzanov, said: "The deaths of the animals cannot be associated with the falling of rocket fragments. We have to look elsewhere for the cause."

He said that according to research carried out by the institute, which regularly measures levels of toxic heptyl rocket fuel in the region's soil and water, neither heptyl nor its derivatives had been found in the area.

Puzanov also said that researchers from his institute had not yet encountered animal deaths that could be attributed to rocket fuel pollution.

The Altai Republic has been used as a "cemetery" for the fallen fragments of carrier rockets launched from the Baikonur space center for more than 40 years. Experts estimate that about 2.5 metric tons of "space waste" have fallen in unpopulated areas of the republic during this period.

On February 5, shortly after the launch of a Proton-M carrier rocket from the Baikonur space center, a three-and-a-half-meter (11 foot) long rocket fragment landed outside the designated area for rocket debris, a few meters from the house of an Altai shepherd.

The man, who was uninjured in the incident, said he and his children had been extremely frightened and demanded compensation of 500,000 rubles ($21,000).

A few years ago another resident of the region sought damage from Federal Space Agency Roscosmos in similar circumstances. A court awarded him a mere $400 in compensation.

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