Russian Federation denies nuclear incident after contamination reports

Its Mayak facility, where an explosion in 1957 contaminated a swath of central Russian Federation, told state news agency RIA Novosti it had not processed nuclear fuel with ruthenium-106 this year.

The Rosgidromet service confirmed that "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 state nuclear agency Rosatom denied radioactivity near any of its plants was higher than usual in the country at the time, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

On November 9, France's Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) issued a report saying ruthenium-106 had been detected in France between September 27 and October 13. The head of the service said excessive ruthenium-106 levels had been documented in Poland, Bulgaria and Ukraine.

Scientists found a high concentration of a radioactive isotope called ruthenium-106 in Argayash, a village in the Chelyabinsk region in the southern Urals.

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In 1957, the plant suffered one of the worst nuclear disasters in history, sparking the evacuation of 100,000 people.

Official records in Russian Federation have confirmed that the surge in ruthenium pollution did come from southern Russian Federation in a report published Tuesday by the government weather agency Rosgidromet.

In a statement on Monday, Rosgidromet said the nuclear matter could eventually reach "all European countries starting in Italy and toward the north of Europe".

The pollution from ruthenium-106 occurs when atoms are split in a reactor, and is also used in certain medical treatments.

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.

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It added that the source of contamination could have been an accident at a nuclear facility in either Russian Federation or Kazakhstan. It does not occur naturally.

"Because of the quantities released, the consequences of an accident of this magnitude in France would have required to implement locally measures of protection of the populations on a radius of the order of a few kilometres around the location of the release", IRSN said by point of comparison, adding it did not see any risk of contamination from foodstuffs imported from the breach area.

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

It still remained unclear how the pollution got into the air, though officials said there was no evidence of an accident and nothing to suggest it was an "authorized release".

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