Russia admitted that is real.
After weeks of denials and silence, Russia has shown that it has detected evidence of a strange radiation cloud floating over Europe, observing a striking radiation spike above Russia’s Ural Mountains.
The acceptance comes after many European countries indicated Russia was the beginning of this radiation cloud, which was detected by monitoring channels that are numerous back in September.
Until this point, Russian authorities had only disclosed that they weren’t conscious of any nuclear accidents on their own turf, issuing a statement saying “[n]one of those businesses of the Russian atomic industry has listed radiation levels that exceed the norm”.
However, now Russia’s meteorological agency, Roshydromet, has for the very first time corroborated findings made by the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRNS).
They admitted “extremely high pollution” in the air over the Ural Mountains, discovering levels of the radioactive isotope ruthenium – 106 up to nearly 1.000 times the normal amount.
As radiation spike is at its strongest in the Chelyabinsk Region of Russia, just north of the border with Kazakhstan, the IRNS investigation — that indicated “the very plausible zone of discharge lies between the Volga and the Urals” inner Russia — shows the radioactive cloud actually blankets almost all of Europe.
The fantastic news though is that the radiation cloud is expected to be benign, with even these radically enhanced degrees of ruthenium–106 reported to function as “no consequence for human health and to the environment”.
“It is very important to place this in context,” said Malcolm Sperrin, a medical physicist from Oxford University Hospitals in the UK.
“Ruthenium is quite infrequent and thus its presence might indicate that an occurrence of some nature has occurred. However, the natural plentifulness is so low that the factor of 900 up on natural levels remains very low.”
Nonetheless, the IRSN reasoned that in case the accidental release of this much ruthenium–106 had occurred on French land, evacuations of the immediate area up to a few kilometers around the origin point would have taken place — therefore it’s still a substantial event that should have been medicated with care.
It’s thought that the material may have been released due to an accident at a nuclear fuel therapy site, or at a center for medicine, and 106 is indeed infrequent that it does not naturally occur.
A more threatening accident at a nuclear reactor is improbable because such an event could have released radioactive components, not simply ruthenium — 106.
“The fact that the isotope decay appears to have been measured in isolation, as opposed to with the usual cocktail of other fission fragment interpretations suggests a flow in the fuel/reprocessing plant or someplace else they’re dividing the Ru, potentially for use as a medical radiopharmaceutical/diagnostic material,” says Paddy Regan, nuclear physicist from the University of Surrey in the UK.
“If it was a nuclear explosion or reactor leak, other radioisotopes would likewise be there in the ‘plume’ and by the accounts, they are not.”
Russia is still asserting it didn’t create the surge, suggesting high levels of radiation above Romania, Italy, and Ukraine could signify those states were responsible.
“The published information is not enough to determine the precise location of the source pollution,” said the head of Roshydromet – Maxim Yakovenko.
However, the simple reality that Roshydromet it self-noticed the radiation cloud with two monitoring channels enclosing the Mayak nuclear facility — one of the plants in Russia — would be directing other people to question those claims.
In 1957, Mayak was the site of the third most serious nuclear accident ever recorded on Earth – Kyshtym tragedy, ranked behind Fukushima and Chernobyl.
The incident spread radioactive particles over a spot covering roughly 52,000 square kilometers – 20,000 square miles, but Soviet officials kept the incident a secret for almost 2 decades.
Now around, Mayak police have similarly denied being responsible for the escape, also the state-run human body which oversees the atomic industry of Russia, Rosatom, also says there’s nothing to see here.
“Rosatom categorically confirms there haven’t been any unreported accidents or reportable events on any of its nuclear sites,” the company told The New York Times.