Russian Federation reports radioactivity 986 times above normal after claims of nuclear accident

23 November, 2017, 00:26 | Author: Brian Mcdaniel
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However, on Tuesday, Russia's Meteorological Service confirmed that it recorded "extremely high contamination" with radioactive isotopes in the southern Urals region at the end of 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 unsafe levels of radiation.

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".

French nuclear safety agency IRSN said it analyzed weather patterns to pinpoint the likely area of the release.

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.

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.

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The incident has shades of the 1986 Chernobyl incident, when the then-Soviet Union was forced to admit a nuclear meltdown had occurred after radioactive material was detected by monitors in Europe. The facility now serves as a reprocessing site for nuclear fuel and ranks as one of the most radioactive places on earth, according to Greenpeace. 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.

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

The isotope was then detected in Tatarstan and then in southern Russian Federation, eventually reaching "all European countries starting in Italy and toward the north of Europe" from September 29, AFP cited Rosgidromet as saying.

The pollution from ruthenium-106 occurs when atoms are split in a reactor, and is also used in certain medical treatments.

"At the Mayak plant in 2017, sources from ruthenium-106 were not produced, the air emissions were in the usual regulatory values", a statement from Mayak said, according to Russian news outlet the Medusa Project. And it said the level detected "poses no danger to human health and lives" as it is 20,000 times smaller than the "allowed annual dose". "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.

"Another possibility is that materials containing ruthenium-106 were placed in a metal remelting furnace".

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