Nuclear 'DISASTER' alert as Russian radiation 1000 times above normal strikes Europe

The area in the Urals near where the radiation leak is said to have originated

Russian Federation has confirmed "extremely high" concentrations of a radioactive chemical element in parts of the country - despite having initially denied reports about a nuclear accident.

A station close to the Mayak nuclear facility in Chelyabinsk region indicated levels 986 times those of the previous month, it said, without specifying the origins of the pollution.

Russian Federation today denied there had been an incident at any of its nuclear facilities after the country's weather service reported radioactive pollution that exceeded background levels by 986 times.

Earlier this month, France's nuclear safety agency earlier this month said that it recorded a spike in radioactivity, and said that "the most plausible zone of release" of this radioactive material "lies between the Volga and the Urals" from a suspected accident involving nuclear fuel or the production of radioactive material.

It said it was not the source of the increased level of ruthenium-106, while Rosatom said there were no accidents at any of its facilities.

In their study, the French researchers believed that the Ruthenium-106 isotopes could have come from a medical research plant, a fallen satellite (of which there had been no reports) - or a nuclear fuel reprocessing site.

A radioactive cloud that engulfed Europe earlier this year originated in Russian Federation, researchers say.

"Probes of radioactive aerosols from monitoring stations Argayash and Novogorny were found to contain radioisotope Ru-106" between September 25 and October 1, Russia's Rosgidromet service said, according to AFP.

A graphic by France's nuclear safety agency showing the percentage likelihood of the release's origin
Image A graphic by France's nuclear safety agency showing the percentage likelihood of the release's origin

The confirmation largely matched the earlier assessment of French authorities, but Rosatom continues to dispute that it is responsible for the high radiation levels, although it operates a nuclear reprocessing plant in the area.

After all, in 1957, Mayak was the site of the third-most serious nuclear accident ever recorded - the Kyshtym disaster, ranked behind only Fukushima and Chernobyl.

The Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kazakhstan, which neighbours the southern Urals, has said there were no accidents at its scientific research reactor and no ruthenium 106 at its two disused testing areas in western Kazakhstan.

"The contamination of the atmosphere with ruthenium-106 isotope registered by Rosgidromet is not linked to the activity of Mayak". It does not occur naturally.

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.

"Greenpeace will send a letter asking prosecutors to open an inquiry into potential concealment of a nuclear incident", it said in a statement.

France's IRSN, a nuclear monitor, has played down reports of an accident in a nuclear reactor.

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