Russian Federation denies nuclear incident after contamination reports

GETTYHigh levels of radiation have been detected close to Russia's southern border with Kazakstan

Russian Federation has confirmed "extremely high" concentrations of a radioactive chemical element in parts of the country - despite having initially denied reports about a nuclear accident.

In a press statement issued today, Mayak said it was not the source of the excess concentration of ruthenium-106, and officials in Chelyabinsk, the nearest large city, said they would have been ordered to evacuate if radiation levels were risky, The Moscow Times reports.

Russia's meteorological service said on Tuesday it had measured pollution of a radioactive isotope at almost 1,000 times normal levels in the Ural mountains, the first official Russian data supporting reports that an accident had taken place.

At the time, Russian authorities denied the existence of a leak and the state-owned Rosatom corporation said there had been no leaks in any of its plants.

On November 9, France's Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety issued a report saying Ru-106 had been detected in France between September 27 and October 13.

The facility, which reprocesses nuclear fuel, said it has not produced Ru-106 for many years.

Scientists found a high concentration of a radioactive isotope called ruthenium-106 in Argayash, a village in the Chelyabinsk region in the southern Urals.

Radiation
GOOGLEThe radiation has been linked to the Mayak nuclear plant

At the same time, the head of Rosgidromet 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.

Mayak is also the site, in 1957, of the world's third worst nuclear disaster, topped only by Chernobyl and Fukushima. It is also used in certain medical treatments.

The mysterious cloud was spotted in September and October and European reports blamed it on nuclear contamination from Russian Federation. It does not occur naturally.

"What is not satisfactory is that ruthenium 106 has been detected across Europe and that poses a question".

Greenpeace said in a statement on Tuesday that it would ask Russia's prosecutors' office to investigate whether there had been an accident in the area.

"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.

The weather agency did not pinpoint the exact source of the pollution but sided with IRSN's interpretation, determining that a more diluted wave of pollution has spread to "all European countries starting in Italy and toward the north of Europe" last month.

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