Greenpeace dissatisfied with the conclusions of the special commission on ruthenium-106 at Mayak

Feature story - 11 December, 2017
Greenpeace considers the results of the check at the Mayak nuclear complex insufficient and unconvincing. The check for a possible leakage of ruthenium-106 has just been completed by Rosatom together with experts from the Russian Academy of Sciences Nuclear Safety Institute (IBRAE) and the Federal Biomedical Agency. On 8 December, the commission presented the results of the check at a press-conference in Moscow.

“Control samples measurements did not indicate the presence of ruthenium-106 in them”, says the commission. “The gamma radiation intensity and beta-particles flux intensity corresponds to the background radiation level”. The commission did not find any failures in the radiation monitoring system at Mayak. At the same time, the commission returned to the version that the possible source of the pollution was a satellite burnt in the atmosphere.

Greenpeace believes that the situation where for more than two months from the first reports of the ruthenium-106 contamination the source of the pollution has not been established, is far from being normal and absolutely unacceptable. Instead of a thorough search for a possible source of discharge, Rosatom makes statements, saying that the radioactivity level of the current contamination is very low and there is no urgent need for an investigation.

“The reluctance of Rosatom to find the source of the pollution shows its irresponsible attitude to the situation”, says .... “No matter how low the level, the discharge means that there is a failure in the work of a nuclear facility, which can lead to more serious accidents. Moreover, it shows that Rosatom has not changed its usual practice of concealing any incidents or failures that happen in the nuclear industry. Therefore, we cannot be sure that if something really dangerous happens, we will have enough information in due time”.

Greenpeace Russia has sent a letter to the prosecutor’s office demanding an investigation with the participation of independent experts. Today the organization starts a petition in search of public support of its demand

According to previously published IAEA data, in late September – early October, ruthenium-106 was found in the atmosphere in many European countries. The German radiation protection agency BfS came to the conclusion, that most probably the source of the emissions of the radioactive substance was situated in the Southern Urals. The French nuclear research and safety agency IRSN confirmed this conclusion.

The Russian state meteorological agency Roshydromet published today data that show that it had found last September the highest concentration of ruthenium-106 in the area that also contains the Rosatom Mayak complex in the Southern Urals. This coincides with earlier findings from the French nuclear research agency IRSN and the German agency for radiation protection BfS.

Some experts expressed the opinion that the discharge could have happened due to filters failure at the furnace at Mayak’s plant 235 that reporocesses spent nuclear fuel.