After several weeks of silence, Russia’s Meteorological Service finally published information that at the end of September, namely on the 25th, a powerful release of radioactive isotope-Ruthenium–106 occurred above Russia’s Ural Mountains.

This information was the first official recognition of the Russian authorities that a major nuclear accident took place in the country. By now, the peak of the crisis has already passed: a radioactive cloud passed over Russia, covered Europe and dissolved in air currents. However, it is still not clear what consequences to expect, and who is guilty.

The first information about radiation spike over Europe was reported by the German Radiation Protection Service (BfS). September 29.

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.

The same point of view was expressed also by their colleagues from the Institute for Nuclear and Radiation Safety of France. The head of the institution, Jean-Marc Pérez, said that, the spike occurred between the Volga and the Urals. At the same time, he specified that the concentration of the isotope was so high that it was necessary to conduct the evacuation of the population within a radius of several kilometers.

The origin of radioactive leak

For a long time, Russia kept silent. Rosatom (Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation) actively denied the information that the accident occurred on the territory of the Russian Federation, (that is in the area of responsibility of the state company).
However, the statement of Russia’s Meteorological Service means that Rosatom was lying.

Kazakhstan also refused to recognize the accident. “This does not apply to Kazakhstan for 100%, Kazatomprom does not work there,”  officially replied
the head of the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Republic Yergazy Kenzhin.

What happened?

According to the Russian statement, on September 25, all radiation monitoring posts in the Southern Urals recorded a sharp increase in the concentration of ruthenium-106. The next day the isotope was discovered in the air of Tatarstan, and on the 28th – in Volgograd and Rostov-on-Don. Since September 29, it has been fixed in Europe.
French experts assumed that ruthenium-106 was probably released in a nuclear fuel treatment site or center for radioactive medicine, Peres said. Because of its short half-life of about a year, ruthenium-106 is used in nuclear medicine – for example in cancer therapy for eye tumours – but can also be released when nuclear fuel is reprocessed.
The media also suggested that the release could be the result of an accident at a nuclear power plant or even the consequences of a “dirty bomb” test. However, according to experts, these versions are untenable, since in both cases a large number of different isotopes would also be in the air.
The main “suspect” at the moment is the Russian enterprise “Mayak”, engaged in the processing of radioactive waste. It is located in the Chelyabinsk region.

Realistic hypothesis

Russian environmental activist Nadezhda Kutepova said that since September 19 from the Balakovo nuclear power plant in the Saratov region, a train with spent fuel was sent to Mayak. At the enterprise itself, at that time, a new container was allegedly tested.
On September 25, a “planned check of city sirens” was announced in the city. At the same time, the company’s management did not announce a successful result of testing of new equipment. “If something happened, it was either the night of September 24, or the morning of 25th” Kutepova told in the interview to the Russian newspaper Kommersant.
The Press Service of Mayak plant refused to give comments on the situation.

Real figures

It is reported that on the day of the release of ruthenium content in samples from the posts in the village of Argayash, Chelyabinsk region amounted to 76.1 thousand micro-becquerels per cubic meter, and in the Novogorny settlement – 52.3 thousand micro-becquerels. For Argayash, the ruthenium radiation background exceeded the parameters of the previous month by 986 times, and for Novogorny – in 440. In both cases, the content of the isotope corresponded to the level of “extremely high pollution”.

It is interesting that the measurements of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) have shown that the greatest level of pollution was observed in Romania – 145(!) thousand micro-bicerequals per cubic meter. In second place was Italy – 54.3 thousand. In Ukraine, the concentration of Ru-106 did not exceed 40 thousand micro-bicerequals.

IAEA data contradict both the picture of Russian official results and the previous models of German and French specialists.

How can the concentration of the isotopes in the Romanian air exceed the concentration above the proposed place of release in the Urals (the distance is about 3500 kilometers)?

Someone is lying. Either Russian Meteorological Service did not tell the whole truth, or the IAEA distorts the figures.
If the second assumption is true, it could mean that the source of infection was in Ukraine or on the territory of Romania.

Anyway, while official information is so stingy and contradictory, there is no doubt that Russian and Europen population for several weeks breathed poisoned air.

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Mysterious Radioactive Cloud Over Europe: Who's Fault?

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