March 24, 2018

Russian Federation denies nuclear incident after contamination reports

23 November 2017, 12:25 | Simon Arnold

Radioactive pollution was found at Mayak nuclear facility in Chelyabinsk Russia

Radioactive pollution was found in Mayak in Chelyabinsk Russia

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.

Its Mayak facility, where an explosion in 1957 contaminated a swath of central Russian Federation, told state news agency RIA Novosti it had not processed nuclear fuel with ruthenium-106 this year.

The data corroborated conclusions reached by France's nuclear regulator, which reported 11 days ago that a cloud of radioactive pollution detected over Europe likely came from an accident that could have taken place in Russian Federation or Kazakhstan during the last week of September.

The IRSN earlier said a nuclear reactor could not have been the source of the leak, since other radioactive elements would have also been detected in addition to the ruthenium-106. The head of the service said excessive ruthenium-106 levels had been documented in Poland, Bulgaria and Ukraine.

Russia's meteorological service said on Tuesday it had measured pollution by a radioactive isotope at almost 1,000 times normal levels in the Ural Mountains, the first confirmation by officials there that an accident could have taken place.

After all, in 1957, Mayak was the site of the third-most serious nuclear accident ever recorded - the Kyshtym disaster, ranked behind only Fukushima and Chernobyl.

Alarmingly high radiation levels nearly 1,000 times above normal levels have been detected in the Ural mountains, according to Russia's meteorological service.

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.

Jean-Christophe Gariel, the director for health at the IRSN, said Russian Federation is responsible for identifying the source of the nuclear cloud.

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.

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

Ruthenium-106 is a product of splitting atoms in a reactor and does not occur naturally. "Greenpeace will send a letter asking prosecutors to open an inquiry into [the] potential concealment of a nuclear incident", read a statement released by the Russian arm of Greenpeace.

It said that the source of the pollution was probably an accident somewhere between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains, adding that the concentrations measured in Europe were not a danger to public health.

He added: "The matter is closed as far as France is concerned".

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