Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation reported on the results of an investigation into the release of ruthenium, which occurred in September this year.
According to the company, in the release happened because of the satellite, which allegedly fell to Earth from orbit and burnt in the atmosphere. The representatives of the corporation told this to journalists at a special briefing on Friday, December 8.
The mysterious release
As we wrote it earlier, a powerful release of radioactive isotope – ruthenium-106 (Ru-106) – occurred on September 25, presumably in the Urals, Russia. A few days later, an ultrahigh concentration of the element was discovered by Federal Office for Radiation Protection. Soon this information was confirmed by specialists from France.
Soon ruthenium was discovered in the air over France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, and countries of Eastern Europe. German specialists came to the conclusion that the outburst occurred in the area of either the Southern Urals or Northern Kazakhstan.
Experts noted that the incident does not seem to be an accident at the nuclear power plant, nor for the explosion of a “dirty” bomb because there was no increased concentration in the air of other elements.
Russian services immediately began to deny the accident on its territory. Nevertheless, on November 21, Russia’s Meteorological Service published a sensational confession.
One of the hypotheses was that the accident occurred at the Russian utilization and processing of radioactive waste plant Mayak, which is located in the Urals.
At a briefing on December 8, representatives of the Russian commission reported that the inspection of Mayak did not reveal a leak of ruthenium and violations in the radiation monitoring system and that all 250 employees were examined, and none of them had any traces of Ru-106. Finally, representatives of the commission drew the attention to the fact that the measurements revealed not one but two outbreaks of isotope spread: one over the South Urals and the other somewhere over Eastern Europe.
Thus, Russian commission came to a conclusion, that, the reason of the Release of Ruthenium could be combustion in the atmosphere of an artificial satellite (or its fragment), on board which was the isotope.
criticism of the report
The hypothesis with the satellite sounds good. Ruthenium is in fact used in space vehicles. Combustion of a satellite in the atmosphere theoretically makes it possible to explain why there were two releases: this could happen if there were two devices with ruthenium on the apparatus, and one of them collapsed earlier, and the other later.
However, this hypothesis has a very weak point. The fact is that all orbital debris has long been on the register and control of special services.
The trajectory of the movement of all broken satellites, upper stages, rocket stages, and debris of space stations have been studied, recorded and added to special catalogs and programs. The Russian State Corporation for Space Activities, the command of the aerospace defense of North America, the European and American space agencies closely monitor all objects flying around the Earth. Because control of the orbit is a matter of life and death for both the International Space Station (ISS) and all aerospace projects.
Therefore, if ruthenium was originated from a satellite, experts would tie these two events into one in the very first days after the incident. By now, it would be already known whose satellite it was.
However, this did not happen. If in the nearest future the version of Rosatom is confirmed by at least one of the space agencies, it can be accepted. But If not, we can assume that Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation lying again.