Science & Technology
Mystery radioactive leak traced back to Russia
July 31, 2019 | 2 comments
Russia has always denied involvement. Image Credit: Christian Fischer
It has been confirmed that the radiation detected over Europe in 2017 came from a Russian nuclear plant.
When scientists in Italy detected an unexpected increase in radioactive ruthenium-106 back in October 2017, it would spark a mystery spanning more than two years as authorities worked tirelessly to determine the source.
The radiation was picked up across Europe as well as in parts of Asia and the Arabian Peninsula.
Now following a renewed effort to get to the bottom of the mystery, scientists have finally managed to confirm that the Mayak nuclear processing plant in Russia's southern Ural mountains was to blame.
Russia has always denied responsibility and has yet to comment on the latest findings.
"We measured radioactive ruthenium-106," said researcher Georg Steinhauser. "The measurements indicate the largest singular release of radioactivity from a civilian reprocessing plant."
Fortunately the radiation levels were too low to cause harm to human health, however the leak exposed Europe to 100 times more radiation than Japan's Fukushima disaster in 2011.
The same plant is also thought to have been responsible for the world's second most serious nuclear disaster after Chernobyl when a plutonium waste tank exploded back in 1957.
The accident was covered up and remained a secret until 1976.
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