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Russia confirms “extremely high” radioactivity Ru-106, denies nuclear accident

 Russia has confirmed spike in radioactivity and “extremely high” concentrations of the radioactive isotope ruthenium-106 (Ru-106) in the Southern Urals in late September. However, it denies there was a nuclear accident and did  not point to any specific source of the pollution.
Small quantities of ruthenium 106 were detected also in the atmosphere of Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Austria, Slovenia
Russia’s meteorological service says it measured “extremely high” concentrations of the radioactive isotope ruthenium-106 (Ru-106) in the Urals in late September.

The November 21 statement by Rosgidromet comes after France’s nuclear-safety agency earlier this month said that a cloud of radioactive pollution over Europe in the last week of September probably originated from a nuclear facility in Russia or Kazakhstan.

Neither Russia nor Kazakhstan has acknowledged any accident.

However, Rosgidromet said in its statement that it measured pollution of Ru-106 at nearly 986 times normal levels at the Argayash weather station in the Chelyabinsk region in late September and early October. At the Novogorny meteorological station, levels were 440 times those of the previous month.

Both stations are located in the Chelyabinsk region in the southern Urals.

The agency did not point to any specific source of the pollution.

The Argayash station is about 30 kilometers from the Mayak nuclear facility, which reprocesses nuclear fuel and produces radioactive material for industrial and research purposes.

The Mayak plant, which is under the umbrella of Russia’s nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, said that the contamination “has nothing to do” with its activities, adding that it had not produced Ru-106 for years.

In 1957, the facility was the site of one of the worst nuclear accidents in history.

Rosatom said there were no radiation leaks from its facilities that could increase the level of the radioactive isotope in the atmosphere.

Speaking to journalists, Rosgidromet chief Maksim Yakovenko said that the recorded levels of Ru-106 in Russia posed no danger to human health as they were “hundreds of thousands of times lower than the allowed maximum.”

Yakovenko added that Rosgidromet did not try to find the source of the increased radiation “because in Romania the level of the wastes’ concentration was 1.5 to 2 times higher than in Russia, and in Poland and Ukraine it was the same.” – source rferl

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