The Russian Meteorological Service (Rosgidromet) reported yesterday that it measured «extremely high» concentrations of the radioactive isotope ruthenium-106 (Ru-106) in the southern Urals. In a statement released on November 21, 2017, by Rosatom´s Mayak, the plant denied being the source of contamination.
France's Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) earlier in November said that it recorded radioactivity in the area between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains from a suspected accident involving nuclear fuel or the production of radioactive material.
It said the release of the isotope Ruthenium-106 posed no health or environmental risks to European countries.
Rosatom said there were no radiation leaks from its facilities that could increase the level of the radioactive isotope in the atmosphere.
The Russian meteorological office’s report, however, noted high levels of radiation in the villages adjacent to Rosatom’s Mayak plant for spent nuclear fuel.
Mayak has denied being the source of contamination.
The plant said it has not conducted any work on extracting Ruthenium-106 from spent nuclear fuel «for several years».
Evgeny Savchenko, the top health and safety official in Chelyabinsk region, where the Mayak facility is located, dismissed health fears as «hysteria».
Savchenko said there was absolutely no reason for the population to fear health effects.
«Note that officials and their families don’t have injections against radiation ... so you’d have to be a total fool to hide dangerous information and not take steps to save people,» he said.
The Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kazakhstan, which neighbours the southern Urals, also has said there were no accidents at its scientific research reactor and no ruthenium 106 at its 2 disused testing areas in western Kazakhstan.