Russia Detects 'Extremely High' Radiation After Mystery Pollution Spreads to Europe

Nov 23, 2017, 00:28
Russia Detects 'Extremely High' Radiation After Mystery Pollution Spreads to Europe

An explosion there in 1957 exposed at least 272,000 people to unsafe levels of radiation.

The report claims that radioactive aerosol probes found pollution to be almost a thousand times higher than usual in some places between the end of September and start of October.

The Mayak plant, part of Russian nuclear energy company Rosatom, said Tuesday, "the atmospheric pollution by the isotope Ruthenium-106, indicated in the report of Roshydromet, is not related to the activities of the FSUE Mayak Production Association".

The French report said a nuclear reactor accident could not have been the source of the Ru-106 since other radioactive elements would also have been detected in the cloud.

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Reversing its stance on Monday, 20 November, Russia's meteorological service, Rosgidromet, said leak of Ru-106 - an isotope with a half-life of just one year and not found naturally on earth - was detected between 25 September and 1 October in the southern Urals.

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.

The Mayak plant was the scene of a major nuclear accident in 1957, when a waste storage facility blew up. It said the isotope was detected in Tatarstan and southern Russian Federation, and eventually reached "all European countries starting in Italy and toward the north of Europe" by late September.

At Beacon, in turn, argue that the release of ruthenium-106 are irrelevant and stated that after checking his background radiation did not reveal any abnormalities. It is also used in certain medical treatments.

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Still, Nils Bøhmer, Bellona's general manager and nuclear physicist said there were reasons Mayak might not be the source of the release.

Yevgeny Savchenko, the Chelyabinsk region public safety minister, said it was suspicious that it had been the French who initially confirmed the existence of the ruthenium 106 cloud.

Agrayash is located 30 kilometers from the Mayak Chemical Combine, a sprawling site for reprocessing nuclear fuel and producing radioactive material for industrial and research purposes, owned and operated by Rosatom.

"Because of the quantities released, the consequences of an accident of this magnitude in France would have required to implement locally measures of protection of the populations on a radius of the order of a few kilometres around the location of the release", IRSN said by point of comparison, adding it did not see any risk of contamination from foodstuffs imported from the breach area.

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"Greenpeace will send a letter asking prosecutors to open an inquiry into potential concealment of a nuclear incident", the charity said in a statement.

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