In Brief

Russian nuclear plant leaked radioactive cloud

Moscow initially denied being the source of nuclear contamination across Europe, but has now admitted to a leak

After months of denial, Russian officials have confirmed “extremely high” levels of radioactive contamination near the Mayak nuclear plant in the south-west of the country.

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

In one village in the the southern Urals, levels of Ru-106 was found to be “exceeding natural background pollution by 986 times”, reports The Guardian.

Rosgidromet did not name the source of the contamination, but the Argayash and Novogorny monitoring stations are both located close to the Mayak nuclear facility.

“The Mayak plant has had a number of nuclear accidents in the past, including one in 1957 that was the second biggest nuclear disaster in history,” says the International Business Times.

Russian authorities dismissed reports of a nuclear leak when a spike in radiation levels was detected over Europe in late September.

“The state nuclear corporation Rosatom said then that ‘radiation around all objects of Russian nuclear infrastructure is within the norm and at the level of background radiation’”, The Times reports.

France’s Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety said on 9 November that Ru-106 had been detected in France between 27 September and 13 October, and that the source of the radiation was likely to be an accident.

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