Russian Federation confirms radiation release, possible nuclear incident

Laura Christensen
November 23, 2017

However, on Tuesday, Russia's Meteorological Service confirmed that it recorded "extremely high contamination" with radioactive isotopes in the southern Urals region at the end of September.

A station close to the Mayak nuclear facility in Chelyabinsk region indicated levels 986 times those of the previous month, it said, without specifying the origins of the pollution. Rosatom was also quoted by Russia's RIA news agency as saying there were no accidents at any of its facilities that could increase the level of ruthenium 106 in the atmosphere.

"When the media got hysteric about some accident and cloud of ruthenium-106, we asked for explanations" from Rosgidromet and Rosatom, Russia's nuclear energy corporation, Savchenko wrote on his Facebook page.

The reported findings from Russian Federation appear to confirm reports from Europe earlier this month that a cloud containing the radioisotope Ru-106 drifted over Europe last month, which European meteorological agencies had said likely originated in either the southeastern Urals region of Russian Federation or Kazakhstan, RFE/RL wrote.

It added that the source of contamination could have been an accident at a nuclear facility in either Russian Federation or Kazakhstan.

This time around, Mayak authorities have similarly denied being responsible for the leak, and Rosatom, the state-run body that oversees Russia's nuclear industry, also says there's nothing to see here.

Russia's weather service acknowledged it had measured pollution of ruthenium-106 at 1000 times normal levels in the Ural mountains.

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The isotope was then detected in Tatarstan and then in southern Russian Federation, eventually reaching "all European countries starting in Italy and toward the north of Europe" from September 29, AFP cited Rosgidromet as saying.

After all, in 1957, Mayak was the site of the third-most serious nuclear accident ever recorded - the Kyshtym disaster, ranked behind only Fukushima and Chernobyl.

Ruthenium-106 is a product of splitting atoms in a reactor and does not occur naturally.

Roshydromet adds a large anticyclone in the White Sea played a key role in ferrying the radioactive particles to parts of western Europe, where they were detected by European monitors.

Greenpeace Russia had demanded a probe in the matter.

"Greenpeace will send a letter asking prosecutors to open an inquiry into potential concealment of a nuclear incident", it said in a statement. And it said the level detected "poses no danger to human health and lives" as it is 20,000 times smaller than the "allowed annual dose".

It still remained unclear how the pollution got into the air, though officials said there was no evidence of an accident and nothing to suggest it was an "authorized release".

Other reports by My Hot News

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