A week ago, the Russian meteorological service, Roshydromet, reacted to a month-long standing request for information from Greenpeace. It triggered extraordinary interest among journalists world-wide in a rather unknown bit of nuclear physics: the radioactive substance ruthenium-106. For weeks, two Russian state-run bodies, Rosatom and Roshydromet, made statements negating or misinterpreting each other’s information and the data coming from French and German sources. The International Atomic Energy Agency – the UN body in which all nuclear states are supposed to cooperate – did not give any clarity, and only a Russian energy propaganda site leaked what looks like the IAEA’s measurement data. The Russian disinformation services were working overtime over social and even official media, making denial statements and sometimes pointing the finger to France and the Ukraine. In other words, there is no reliable information on where the cloud of this rare man-made radioactive substance came from.
Greenpeace 27th Nov 2017 read more »
In a year when it’s celebrating the 60-year anniversary of giving the world its first nuclear disaster – which took place in secrecy, was obscured by misdirection, and was only acknowledged decades later – Russia this week seems intent on replicating that success. Since late September, it’s become clear that a huge release of the radioactive isotope ruthenium 106 took place at the Mayak Chemical Combine, Russia’s notorious and sprawling nuclear fuel reprocessing complex located near Chelyabinsk in the southern Ural Mountains. The cause was likely an error with a filtration system on an oven used to bake nuclear waste into glass – a process called vitrification. During such procedures, which Mayak performs routinely, ruthenium 106 can become volatile and change form, and these changes determine the kind of filter that’s required. Without the right kind of filter, gaseous ruthenium can end up in the atmosphere – which is exactly where the Europeans have been finding it.
Bellona 27th Nov 2017 read more »