Oct. 9, regional authorities in the Chelyabinsk region, home of the plant, issued a statement saying that the Russian state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, had regularly tested the air and that “the radiation background in the region is within norms.”
“From October 25 to October 1, excess beta activity was recorded in radioactive aerosol samples and precipitations in the southern Uralis. In radioactive aerosol samples from Argayash and Novogorny observation points, the radioisotope Ru-106 (368.2 days of decay time), “says the Roshydromet Department’s report.
The highest concentration was registered at the station in Argayash, a village in the Chelyabinsk region in the southern Urals, which had ‘extremely high pollution’ of Ru-106, exceeding natural background pollution by 986 times, the service said.
Ruthenium 106, which is obtained from spent fuel, is used mostly in medicine. It is considered not particularly dangerous because of its short half-life, 373 days, and harmless at the low concentrations that have turned up in Europe.
Ruthenium-106 is a radioactive, naturally non-existent isotope of the element ruthenium. It is produced by the fission of uranium-235 in nuclear power plants, but also in the reprocessing of nuclear fuel rods. Because ruthenium-106 releases both beta and gamma radiation upon decay, it is considered toxic and carcinogenic when ingested at higher concentrations.
Argayash is about 20 miles from Mayak, a facility that reprocesses spent nuclear fuel. The plant facility issued a denial on Tuesday. “The contamination of the atmosphere with ruthenium-106 isotope registered by Rosgidromet is not linked to the activity of Mayak,” a statement said.