Russian Federation denies nuclear accident after radioactive traces found

Russian Federation denies nuclear accident after radioactive traces found

Rosgidromet, however, does not mention Mayak, which is owned by Rosatom nuclear power company, in its report.

"Probes of radioactive aerosols from monitoring stations in Argayash and Novogorny [villages in Russia's Chelyabinsk Region in the Urals] contained radioisotope Ru-106" in the period between September 25 and October 1, Russia's meteorological service, Rosgidromet, said in a statement.

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".

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

Greenpeace called for "an in-depth inquiry and [for Russian Federation to] publish the results about the incidents at Mayak [a nearby nuclear facility]".

Yevgeny Savchenko, the Chelyabinsk region public safety minister, said it was suspicious that it had been the French who initially confirmed the existence of the ruthenium 106 cloud.

Russia's Environmental Ministry said that the recent spike in radiation levels in the Urals region did not exceed acceptable limits in a statement Tuesday.

Ruthenium-106 is a radioactive isotope that is a by-product of a nuclear reaction and it is not found in nature.

Jean-Christophe Gariel, director for health at the IRSN, said the responsibility for identifying the source of the falllout was now with the Russians or Kazakhs.

A Greenpeace activist holds a cross bearing the name of the Mayak nuclear plant during a commemoration of nuclear disasters in Bucharest, Mar. 5, 2012.

The Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kazakhstan, which neighbours the southern Urals, has said there were no accidents at its scientific research reactor and no ruthenium 106 at its two disused testing areas in western Kazakhstan.

Ruthenium-106 is a radioactive isotope of ruthenium, meaning it has a different number of neutrons than the naturally occurring form of the element.

France's IRSN - the technical arm the French nuclear regulator ASN - first reported the cloud of ruthenium on November 9, saying that a release of similar magnitude on its territory would have triggered evacuations and other civil defense responses. It suggested instead that a discharge from an installation linked to the nuclear fuel cycle or something that produced radioactive materials was the cause of the radioactive cloud.

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

"Roshydromet's data on isotope contamination with ruthenium-106 allow us to conclude that the dose that could have been received by a person is 20 thousand times less than the maximum permissible annual dose and does not pose any danger to human health and life", Rosatom added.

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