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News 24 Nov 17

Balkan Countries Downplay Worry About Radioactive Cloud

Several Balkan countries say they detected nuclear pollution in their atmosphere in September and October – but have reassured concerned citizens that it is not dangerous. 

Ana Maria Luca
BIRN
Bucharest
A satellite map of the Mayak facility. Photo: NASA/Wikimedia Commons

Several Balkan countries reported nuclear pollution in their atmosphere during September and October, due to an allegedly unreported incident traced to the Southern Urals, but experts have reassured worried people that the levels of nuclear pollution are not dangerous.

Romania’s nuclear activity agency CNCAN said on Thursday that Romania had been under the radioactive cloud for almost a month, from September 15 to October 10, with the highest concentrations of radioactive pollution in the south of the country, from the Black Sea to Bucharest. However, the agency said the levels were not dangerous.

The Bulgarian, Bosnian and Serbian nuclear agencies also confirmed that the cloud passed over their countries and also stressed that the levels of radioactive pollution were not dangerous.

European monitoring stations began detecting Ruthenium 106 in the atmosphere at the end of September 2017 and traced it back to the southern Urals, in Russia or Kazakhstan.

Moscow’s weather service on Monday confirmed “extremely high” concentrations of radioactivity in parts of the country in late September.

The Russian meterological service did not refer to any specific source of the pollution, but it said the highest concentration was registered in Argayash, 30 kilometres from the Mayak nuclear facility, the site of a nuclear disaster in 1957. It is now a reprocessing plant for spent nuclear fuel.

South-Eastern European countries have been affected before by radioactive pollution, especially from the 1986 Chernobyl explosion that generated a radioactive cloud. The consequences of the incident were largely downplayed by communist regimes at the time.

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