After denying a nuclear leak for several months, Russia admitted yesterday that “extremely high” concentrations of radioactive pollution were detected in the southern Urals in late September. The level of ruthenium-106, a radioactive isotope that does not occur naturally, had reached 986 times the normal level of pollution at a monitoring station about 20 miles from the Mayak nuclear facility, where in 1957 an explosion exposed at least 272,000 people to dangerous levels of radiation. Russian officials had denied any knowledge of an accident in September or October. The state nuclear corporation Rosatom said then that “radiation around all objects of Russian nuclear infrastructure is within the norm and at the level of background radiation”. The French nuclear safety institute the IRSN said this month, however, that it had detected a radioactive cloud over Europe between September 27 and October 13 and that it suspected that it had come from Russia or Kazakhstan. Jean-Christophe Gariel, director for health at the IRSN, said that the two countries could be reported to the United Nations if they failed to reveal where the contamination had originated. He ruled out an accident at a nuclear reactor. The IRSN said that the levels of radioactive pollution were so high that had they been released in France the authorities would have evacuated several kilometres around the site of the accident. It emphasised, however, that the cloud was no longer deemed a danger to human health by the time it had reached France and other European countries. Mr Gariel said that, according to IRSN data, “no ruthenium-106 was detected in the UK”.
Times 21st Nov 2017 read more »
Russia’s meteorological service has confirmed “extremely high” concentrations of the radioactive isotope ruthenium-106 were found in several parts of the country in late September, confirming European reports about the contamination this month. “Probes of radioactive aerosols from monitoring stations Argayash and Novogorny were found to contain radioisotope Ru-106″ between September 25 and October 1,” the Rosgidromet service said. The highest concentration was registered in Argayash, a village in the Chelyabinsk region in the southern Urals, which had “extremely high pollution” of Ru-106, exceeding natural background pollution by 9 86 times, the service said. Greenpeace Russia on Monday called on Rosatom to open “an in-depth inquiry and publish the results about the incidents at Mayak”. “Greenpeace will send a letter asking prosecutors to open an inquiry into potential concealment of a nuclear incident,” it said in a statement.
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