After months of denial, Russia has finally admitted that radiation cloud over Europe is real.
It can be remembered that last September 2017, multiple monitoring agencies detected an unusual amount of radiation hovering over much of Europe. Several European nations suggested that the source of the radiation cloud might have been Russia.
As of writing, Moscow authorities denied even detecting the cloud — until now.
Roshydromet, Russian meteorological services agency last November 21, corroborated the findings of the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRNS), one of the monitoring agencies that first spotted the elevated levels of ruthenium-106, the radioactive isotope of the rare heavy metal ruthenium.
IRNS said it had detected ruthenium-106 over France from September 27 to October 13 at levels of a few milliBecquerels per cubic meter of air.
The agency also said that the the measurements of chemical elements pointed to a potential source of the radiation cloud as being somewhere between the Volga and the Urals, a Russian river and mountain range, respectively.
Roshydromet confirmed “extremely high contamination,” detecting levels of ruthenium-106 1,000 times higher than normal in samples examined by two meteorological stations in the southern region of the Ural Mountains. This is consistent with the French findings.
The head of Roshydromet, however, denied that Russia is the cause of the radiation cloud.
“The published data is not sufficient to establish the location of the pollution source,” Yakovenko said in a statement, according to The New York Times.
According to Associated Press report, Russia’s state-controlled corporation in charge of nations’s nuclear industry called Rosatom, said that the radiation didn’t come from any of their facilities.
Meanwhile, in IRNS report, they noted that the levels of ruthenium-106 detected in Europe “are of no consequence for human health and for the environment.” Since October 13, they haven’t even detected any traces of the isotope over France.
“Ruthenium is very rare, and hence its presence may suggest that an event of some nature has occurred. That being said, the natural abundance is so low that even a factor of 900 up on natural levels is still very low,” says Malcolm Sperrin, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust Department of Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering director.
If anything is a cause for concern, it may be Russian authorities’ hesitancy to confirm and share information about the radiation.
It is not a new case of Russian’s action over denying the nuclear situation, it can also be remembered that the nation kept the details of the world’s third worst nuclear accident, the Kyshtym disaster, a secret for nearly two decades, and such secrecy of any future nuclear incidents could stymie efforts to safeguard a population from potential harm.