Russia's Mayak Nuclear Plant Denies Involvement In Mysterious Radioactive Cloud

Russia's Mayak Nuclear Plant Denies Involvement In Mysterious Radioactive Cloud

Both Argayash and Novogorn villages, where the high levels of Ru-106 were detected, are located in close proximity (23km and 7km respectively) to the Mayak Production Association, one of the biggest nuclear facilities in Russian Federation.

However, Rosatom, the state nuclear agency that runs the Mayak plant, denied any involvement.

"Another possibility is that materials containing ruthenium-106 were placed in a metal remelting furnace".

Yevgeny Savchenko, the Chelyabinsk region public safety minister, said Monday "fluctuations in background radiation" had not reached risky levels and "there was no basis for protective measures".

In October, Rosatom, Russia's nuclear corporation, said that "in samples tested from September 25 to October 7, including in the southern Urals, no trace of ruthenium-106 was found, except in St Petersburg".

On Tuesday, however, for the first time, Russia's Meteorological Service confirmed that it recorded "extremely high contamination" with radioactive isotopes in the southern Urals region at the end of September, according to AP and AFP. A Geiger counter at the riverbank in the village of Muslyumovo showed measurements 80 to 100 times the level of naturally occurring background radiation.

Ruthenium-106, which is produced by splitting atoms in a reactor, is used in certain medical treatments.

The report claims that radioactive aerosol probes found pollution to be almost a thousand times higher than usual in some places between the end of September and start of October.

French nuclear authority IRSN discovered a sharp uptick in the traces of ruthenium-106 not only in parts of France, the lowlands and Germany but also in the Balkans and virtually every European country that borders Russian Federation.

The tragedy was measured as a Level 6 disaster or "serious accident" on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES).

Western scientists said the ruthenium 106 levels disclosed did not by themselves indicate any major health threat, although it was still unclear what had happened.

Jean-Christophe Gariel, the director for health at the IRSN, said the responsibility for identifying the source of the nuclear cloud was with the Russians. The ministry did notreveal the name of this "organization", but on Monday, Greenpeace Russia called upon Rosatom to open "a thorough investigation about the incidents at Mayak." .

But a representative of Rosatom nuclear corporation told AFP "there have been no incidents at nuclear infrastructure facilities in Russian Federation", adding that the concentration detected posed little threat.

Mayak, located in the city of Ozersk, has had a number of nuclear accidents in the past, including one in 1957 that was the second largest nuclear disaster in history.

Nearly 30 years later, the extent of the catastrophic Chernobyl nuclear accident - located in Ukraine - was similarly covered up by Soviet officials who for days did not even acknowledge that the incident happened.