World News

Russia Confirms Radioactivity Emanating From Southeastern Urals

Russia Confirms Radioactivity Emanating From Southeastern Urals

European radiation monitors detected a cloud of radioactive material originating in Russia's southern Urals over two dozen European countries in late September and early October.

MOSCOW | The Russian agency of meteorology Rosguidromet acknowledged on Monday that a concentration of "extremely high" ruthenium-106 was detected at the end of September in many regions of Russia, confirming reports from several european networks of surveillance of the radioactivity.

Though the agency did not mention the exact source of the pollution, the monitoring station which picked up the highest levels of radiation is located about 20 miles from the Mayak nuclear facility.

"Probes of radioactive aerosols from monitoring stations Argayash and Novogorny were found to contain radioisotope Ru-106" between September 25 and October 1, Russia's Rosgidromet service said, according to AFP.

"The concentration levels in the air ruthenium-106, which have been identified in Europe and especially in France are of no effect, both to human health and the environment", notes the IRSN. It was here that one of the worst nuclear disasters in history struck when more than 270,000 people were exposed to unsafe levels of radiation in 1957.

Following the initial reports, Russia's state-controlled Rosatom corporation had said in a statement last month that the radiation had not come from its facilities. Today, Mayak is a reprocessing site for spent nuclear fuel.

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France's Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety said on 9 November that Ru-106 had been detected in France between 27 September and 13 October, and that the source of the radiation was likely to be an accident.

France's nuclear safety agency earlier this month recorded radioactivity in the area between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains from a suspected accident involving nuclear fuel or the production of radioactive material.

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.

"Greenpeace is going to send a letter to the prosecutor to request the opening of an investigation into the concealment of a possible nuclear incident", adds the press release published on the website of the association.

Ruthenium-106 is a product of splitting atoms in a reactor, and is also used in certain medical treatments.


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