Something smells funky in Russia, both literally and figuratively.
The Russian Meteorological Service confirmed reports of a spike in radioactivity over the southern Urals' air in late September, saying that it indeed recorded the release of Ruthenium-106 and that the contamination is classified as “extremely high”.
However, while France’s nuclear safety agency recently announced that they also recorded such radioactivity in between the Volga River and the Ural Mountain, they said the isotope Ruthenium-106's release won't harm people's health and the environment. Moreover, this happening is alleged to be either due to certain nuclear fuel accident or radioactive material production.
Rosatom, a state-controlled corporation in Russia, denied any radiation leak from its facilities. But Russian authorities' report pointed that nearby villages in Rosatom's Mayak plant were actually those that have high radiation levels. The Mayak plant insisted that they had nothing to do with the contamination as they haven't extracted Ruthenium-106 from spent nuclear fuel “for several years” already.
The said plant in a different region--the Chelyabinsk--already have a history of being the source of at least two of Russia’s biggest radioactive accidents. It was even confirmed in 2004 that they've discarded their waste in just the local river. And while nuclear regulators say this isn't happening anymore, anti-nuclear activist aren't so convinced.
With that, Greenpeace is to petition that the Russian Prosecutor General’s office should investigate “a possible concealment of a radiation accident” and pushes to ensure that the public's health is safe and sound.
Get weekly science updates in your inbox!