Russian Federation confirms radiation release, possible nuclear incident

Nov 23, 2017, 00:24
Russian Federation confirms radiation release, possible nuclear incident

Neither Russia nor Kazakhstan has acknowledged any accident but state weather service Roshydromet said "extremely high pollution" of ruthenium 106 had been found in samples from two meteorological stations in the southern Ural mountains region in late September and early October.

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.

The French Institute of Radioactive Protection reported this month a cloud of radioactive pollution had been detected in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland in late September - and that it likely originated from a nuclear facility in Russian Federation or Kazakhstan.

But on November 9, France's Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) said ruthenium-106 had been detected in France between September 27 and October 13.

The Federal Service for Consumer Protection and Welfare, Rospotrebnadzor, also concluded that levels of Ruthenium-106 did not exceed acceptable limits.

Moscow has conceded that the leak levels were 986 times the normal level, confirming earlier suspicion that pollution from a Russian nuclear plant could have caused the cloud formation. 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.

Quoted by Sputnik, the Rosatom representative stated that there were "no incidents or accidents at nuclear facilities in Russia".

It said there was no health risk.

Official records in Russian Federation have confirmed that the surge in ruthenium pollution did come from southern Russian Federation in a report published Tuesday by the government weather agency Rosgidromet. 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.

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. It 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 on Monday called on Rosatom to open "an in-depth inquiry and publish the results about the incidents at Mayak", according to The Guardian.

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".

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