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Earth Science

Russia Detects a Significant Radiation Spike In Mountains Close To Soviet-Era Nuclear Plant (nytimes.com) 125

According to a report via The New York Times, Russia said that it had detected a significant radiation spike in the Ural Mountains, close to a sprawling Soviet-era nuclear plant still remembered as the site of an accident 60 years ago. Russia did however reject suggestions that it was the source of a radioactive cloud that hovered over Europe. From the report: The location of the spike -- in the Chelyabinsk region near the border with Kazakhstan -- has been identified by French and German nuclear safety institutions as a potential source for a concentration of a radioactive isotope called ruthenium 106 detected in the air in late September above several European countries. But nuclear energy authorities in Moscow insisted Monday that still-higher levels of atmospheric contamination had been detected outside Russia, in southeastern Europe. Reports of the elevated radiation levels over Western Europe raised alarms, but nuclear safety authorities in France and Germany said there was no threat to human health or to the environment -- an assurance repeated on Tuesday by Moscow. The Russian state weather service Roshydromet said it had found what the Russian news media described as "extremely high pollution" at two monitoring facilities within a 62-mile radius of the Mayak nuclear reprocessing and isotope production plant. A weather station in the town of Argayash recorded ruthenium 106 levels that were 986 times higher than a month earlier, the state weather agency said. A second station at Novogorny detected levels 440 times higher. Ruthenium 106, which does not occur naturally and has a half-life of about a year, is used for medical purposes.

For weeks, Russian officials had denied the French and German accusations. Citing the results of its own air monitoring on European territory, Moscow pointed to high radiation levels over Romania, Italy and Ukraine, insisting that there had been only a negligible presence of ruthenium 106 on Russian territory. On Tuesday, even after the Russian agency acknowledged the radiation spike in the Urals, Maxim Yakovenko, the head of Roshydromet, said in a statement that higher levels of contamination had been detected in Romania than in Russia. "The published data is not sufficient to establish the location of the pollution source," he said. The authorities at Mayak denied in a news release on Tuesday that the plant had contributed to the increased levels of ruthenium 106 and insisted that there was no threat to human beings.

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Russia Detects a Significant Radiation Spike In Mountains Close To Soviet-Era Nuclear Plant

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  • by DrTJ ( 4014489 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @05:26AM (#55601799)

    ...is known as the "Mayak incident", or the "Kyshtym disaster". It is the third largest ever nuclear mishap (after Chernobyl and Fukushima).

    It occurred in 1958 (I think), and it was not caused by a nuclear critical event, but rather "mundane" (but very large - equivalent of somewhere around 100 tonnes of TNT) chemical explosion within nuclear waste (mostly ammonium nitrates IIRC) which spread the waste over large distances. No one was directly killed by the event.

    • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @07:06AM (#55602045)

      There were a series of accidents at Mayak, this is just another one. It's worth noting that this is not a power plant but a military installation producing weapons grade plutonium. Together, the accidents (one of which was actually caused by an idiot pouring a plutonium solution down the drain) have released more radioactive material than Chernobyl and Fukushima put together. The only reason this didn't result in a major catastrophe is because the surrounding area is very sparsely inhabited. But while the number of direct deaths was low, because the authorities kept the whole thing under wraps (doctors weren't allowed to diagnose people in the area with cancer for example), the number of deaths from radiation poisoning of the groundwaters is very hard to determine. We are not talking about a single big event here, more of a contamination that have been going on for decades, and because of this its impact is staggeringly large compared to its "visibility".

      • Mayak is not just a military installation for producing weapons grade plutonium, it is also the main Russian spent fuel reprocessing site and an important site for medical radioisotope creation.

      • one of which was actually caused by an idiot pouring a plutonium solution down the drain

        Idiot is too kind. The guy won himself an instant Darwin award despite surviving for over a month after his stupidity:
        http://darwinawards.com/darwin... [darwinawards.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @07:59AM (#55602169)

      No one was directly killed by the event.

      Yes, Russian Television reports is perfectly safe, no harm done, enjoy pleasant glow to save money on flashlights.

    • "The published data is not sufficient to establish the location of the pollution source," Suppose something like this happened in the US. One can easily imagine a similar statement from the current head of the US EPA.
    • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

      It occurred in 1958 (I think)

      September 29, 1957.

  • by Jzanu ( 668651 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @05:32AM (#55601815)
    "Yes, we detected one of our radioactive clouds. It has nothing to do with you radioactive clouds. It is Russian."
    • John Oliver just mentioned this style of argumentation on his last episode. He showed how Trump and his supporters abused "whataboutism", by using contrast whenever presented with a big issue that had no justification in itself, thus relying on shifting focus to something else by opponents or even the interviewers themselves. They also mentioned this kind of argumentation was, and apparently still is, very common in Russian-style propaganda, going back to the 40's and 50's.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        John Oliver just mentioned this style of argumentation on his last episode....

        A well educated population helps of course, but perhaps the parent points to the answer.

        What if we required say 4 years of debate in high school. Included with that would be identifying all the common and even the uncommon ways to deflect, dodge, change the subject, lie, obfuscate, mislead, etc, etc. Include a couple years in college as well. Toss in plenty of practical knowledge of the scientific method, understanding statistics, etc.

        Seriously.

        Make every American that graduates our schooling system an ex

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        "But Bush". That's what I heard from Obama for 8 years.
        Whataboutism is SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for both parties, and always has been.
        John Oliver is hardly some insightful genius, or even a decent comedian for that matter, but if that's what you think passes for remark-worthy insight, you need to expand your horizons.

        • "But Bush". That's what I heard from Obama for 8 years.

          Sure, but while he was doing better. Not at all things; Obama was at least as much of a warhawk as Bush. He may even have created more refugees. But that's America for you.

        • Oh boy, yes he is. He is so much better than most American comedians at present. It goes to show you needed to import some quality.

          I dare say most of your decent comedians of late are first or second generation immigrants, just like your smart guys leading your tech companies.

        • The reason for the 'whataboutism' during Obama's tenure related directly to the whiners who were accusing Obama of this and that while completely ignoring Bush had done the exact same thing and didn't say one word.

          It was a perfectly legitimate argument to use. If one didn't complain when Bush did it, one cannot complain when Obama did it.

          Remember all those "illegal" executive orders Obama signed? Too bad Bush had more and both were outclassed by Reagan [snopes.com]. And after whining about those "illegal" ex
          • It's not just about "how many" were signed, it's more about how they were used. Obama signed quite a few unilaterally where ethically, Congress should've been involved. Imagine if Trump tried to issue an EO ending the ACA because Congress wasn't moving fast enough - not possible, of course. He probably would though if he could, and that's not cool either.
            In any case, it usually bites them back in the butt because an EO can always be undone by the following administration.

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        They also mentioned this kind of argumentation was, and apparently still is, very common in Russian-style propaganda, going back to the 40's and 50's.

        Uh bud. Hate to break it to you, but that kind of argumentation was and still is very common everywhere. If you need an example, look at the handwaving that democrats are currently doing with Al Franken.

        By the way, has Oliver ever given Trump that campaign contribution he promised?

        • Did you just whatabout me? It kinda went through my mind like this:

          "Whatabout no. Whatabout everyone whatabouting everywhere. Whatabout this totally unrelated example of Al Franken and democrats not whatabouting?

          BTW, whatabout this campaign contribution promise from this comedian who fortunately can interchange irony with opinion freely, since he has an audience that gets it AND is mostly immune to things like whataboutism?"

          • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

            Did you just whatabout me? It kinda went through my mind like this:

            No, I pointed out the glaring hypocrisy and stupidity that argument made. See, you've just had a taste of being held to your own standards and don't like it.

      • I expect John Oliver to have his green card pulled any day now. Then Piers Morgan and him can do a podcast about how crazy the U.S.A. is.
  • by allcoolnameswheretak ( 1102727 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @06:42AM (#55601979)

    For weeks, Russian officials had denied the French and German accusations

    At this point, who the fuck cares what Russia says. The current Russian regime has lost all credibility.

    1. Russia: "There are no Russian troops in Crimea"
    One month later: Crimea is annexed by Russia
    Russia: "Of course there were Russian troops in Crimea"

    2. Russia: "The hundreds of trucks at the Ukrainian border are just delivering humanitarian supplies"
    One month later: Ukrainian separatists fight back the Ukrainian government offensive which went pretty well up to that point.

    3. Russia: "There are no Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. Only some guys on 'vacation' "
    One month later: Russian soldiers boast about skirmishes with Ukrainian forces on social media. Mothers and wives of Russian soldiers demand answers from the Russian government on why so many sons and fathers die during 'training exercises'

    4. Russia: "Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was not shot down by Ukrainian rebels using Russian supplied missiles"
    Immediately thereafter: Separatist boasts on social media about shooting down Ukrainian airplane. Post quickly disappears. Photographic evidence and witnesses report of a Buk surface-to-air missile launcher being moved from eastern Ukraine into Russia.

    5. Russia: "The Syrian army did not use chemical weapons against rebel positions"
    UN investigation: missiles were launched during the time of the attack from Syrian army controlled territory. Russia uses UN security council veto 10 times to block further investigations.

    6. Russia: "Our olympic athletes are not using illegal substances as this is rigorously controlled by our anti-doping-agency.
    Independent Investigation: systematic state-sponsored doping of Russian athletes is uncovered. 19 national anti-doping organisations recommend suspending Russia from participation in all sports.

    7. Russia: "We have photographic evidence that the US is supporting ISIS"
    Immediately after: Media reveals that the evidence are screenshots of a video game.

    Russia expects to be taken seriously about anything they have to say? Why?

    • by MikeMo ( 521697 )
      Reminds me of an episode of Cops I saw a few weeks ago. A person was arrested for suspected drug dealing, but they couldn’t find any drugs on him. So they take him into a closed room for a “closer” search. Drugs fall out of his anus during the search. He says “I don’t know where that came from.” And then “That’s not mine.”

      Would make Putin proud.
    • So you're going to spout off all this pro-US propaganda without a single mention of American lies? As if the US government didn't lose all credibility decades ago? CIA, is that you? And if not, why are people spouting US government propaganda?
    • and the government of your country should be taken seriously? has credibility? hahahaha!

      • and the government of your country should be taken seriously? has credibility? hahahaha!

        Well, yes. My country is a western European country where we have real division of powers, a free press, freedom of speech, no Internet censorship and people can demonstrate, complain and bitch about the government and our leaders all they want without getting thrown into jail or shot.
        So you know, all those little things that Russia doesn't offer.

        Oh, and the leaders of my country where not connected with Panama or Paradise papers, unlike some people in the inner circle of Putin's Oligarch/KGB club.

  • Back during the communist era, the "core" of the soviet state, Russia, was about protecting Russia. The satellite states be damned. Heck, they've always done that all the way back to Peter the Great. Give up outside territory, to protect the core. Same thing in the soviet era. All the risky crap was mostly done OUTSIDE native Russian empire area, so that if something did go wrong, it would not impact the "motherland".
  • After it's been detected by France and Germany months ago (while denied by Russia), now Russia is able to detect

  • Here in Siberia the winds blow mostly from West to East. For instance, if we want to know the weather for tomorrow we listen about current weather in some city some 1000 km in the West (Sorry, my exact location is classified).

    So if you see a big spot of Ruthenium in South-West Siberia and North Kazakhstan then it's source is somewhere between Russia and the EU.

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