Russia Detects 'Extremely High' Radiation After Mystery Pollution Spreads to Europe

Russian state weather service Roshydromet said in a statement it had found “extremely high pollution” of ruthenium 106 in samples from two meteorological stations in the southern Ural mountains region in late September and early October.

Argayash, where pollution levels were 986 times the norm, is located around 20 miles from a huge nuclear reprocessing plant known as Mayak.

Earlier this month, France's nuclear safety agency earlier this month said that it recorded a spike in radioactivity, and said that "the most plausible zone of release" of this radioactive material "lies between the Volga and the Urals" from a suspected accident involving nuclear fuel or the production of radioactive material. The head of Rosgidromet, however, said that the automatic monitoring system detected an increase in the concentration of Ru-106 not only in Russian Federation, but also in neighboring countries such as Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine.

A cloud of radioactive pollution over Europe had indicated that an accident had taken place at a nuclear facility either in Russian Federation or Kazakhstan in the last week of September.

Russia's Mayak nuclear facility denied any involvement in a mysterious radioactive cloud hovering over Europe in recent months.

"Probes of radioactive aerosols from monitoring stations Argayash and Novogorny were found to contain radioisotope Ru-106", Russia's Rosgidromet service said, according to the South China Morning Post. In 1957, an explosion at Mayak led to one of the worst nuclear accidents in history.

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Their findings suggest the radiation could have come from a medical research plant, a fallen satellite or a nuclear fuel reprocessing site.

On Monday, Rosgidromet said the isotope was detected in Tatarstan and southern Russian Federation, and had eventually reached "all European countries starting in Italy and toward the north of Europe" from 29 September.

"Because of the quantities released, the consequences of an accident of this magnitude in France would have required to implement locally measures of protection of the populations on a radius of the order of a few kilometres around the location of the release", IRSN said by point of comparison, adding it did not see any risk of contamination from foodstuffs imported from the breach area.

Mayak denied in a statement that it was the source of the increased ruthenium 106 levels, adding that it has not conducted any work on extracting the isotope "for several years". It does not occur naturally.

Greenpeace Russia on November 20 called on Rosatom to open "an in-depth inquiry and publish the results about the incidents at Mayak".

France's IRSN, a nuclear monitor, has played down reports of an accident in a nuclear reactor.


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