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Radioactivity in Urals no nuclear accident - Russian Federation

Radioactivity in Urals no nuclear accident - Russian Federation

Russian Federation has confirmed "extremely high" concentrations of a radioactive chemical element in parts of the country - despite having initially denied reports about a nuclear accident.

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 risky levels of radiation.

France's Institute of Radioprotection and Nuclear safety had said in its report that ruthenium-106 was detected in France between 27 September and 13 October.

Russia's state nuclear agency Rosatom denied radioactivity near any of its plants was higher than usual in the country at the time, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

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.

"When the media got hysteric about some accident and cloud of ruthenium-106, we asked for explanations" from Rosgidromet and Rosatom, Russia's nuclear energy corporation, Savchenko wrote on his Facebook page.

In 1957, it was the site of the Kyshtym disaster, one of the worst nuclear accidents in history, which was kept secret by the Soviet Union for 30 years.

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

Jean-Christophe Gariel, the director for health at the IRSN, said the responsibility for identifying the source of the nuclear cloud was with the Russians.

The mysterious cloud was spotted in September and October and European reports blamed it on nuclear contamination from Russian Federation. Mayak is now a reprocessing site for spent nuclear fuel. It is also used in certain medical treatments. It does not occur naturally.

"The contamination of the atmosphere with ruthenium-106 isotope registered by Rosgidromet is not linked to the activity of Mayak".

The weather agency did not pinpoint the exact source of the pollution but sided with IRSN's interpretation, determining that a more diluted wave of pollution has spread to "all European countries starting in Italy and toward the north of Europe" last month.

"Greenpeace will send a letter asking prosecutors to open an inquiry into potential concealment of a nuclear incident", the charity said in a statement.

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


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