Two years ago, in October 2017, several European countries detected elevated levels of radiation in the air. An accident at the Mayak nuclear plant in southern Urals was said to have caused the nuclear cloud. Now, a team of physicists have established that Italian scientists from the Borexino neutrino detector, who performed physical experiments, were to blame for the leakage of radioactive ruthenium-106 into the atmosphere of Russia and Europe. The Russian Mayak plant, which was accused of releasing a hazardous chemical, is not to blame.
The claim contradicts the findings of the study, referred to in the article.The study clearly identifies the source of the radiation.
The data suggest a release from a nuclear reprocessing facility located in the Southern Urals, possibly from the Mayak nuclear complex.
Scientists from 32 countries studied the release of ruthenium-106 for two years, a cloud of which covered Russia and Europe in 2017. The results of the study pointed to the Russian Mayak plant, which was engaged in the manufacture of a radioactive source for a neutrino experiment in Italy. Ruthenium-106 does not exist in nature, and Russian scientists obtain it from used nuclear fuel.
A special group of scientists who investigated the causes of the radioactive cloud analysed the movement of the atmosphere over Russia and Europe. Scientists have analysed more than 1300 measurements of radioactive background from 176 stations in nearly 30 countries. These specialists concluded that the release of the hazardous substances occurred at the Russian Mayak plant from the evening of September 25th 2017 to noon on September 26th 2017.
The authors of the study also reject the version about the possible fall of a satellite with a radioisotope source based on ruthenium on board. Scientists rejected the version that ruthenium-106 could have been thrown out as a result of an accident at the reactor: in this case, the atmosphere would have recorded elevated levels of other radioactive isotopes.
In the Italian laboratory at the Gran Sasso Apennines in 2017, preparations were underway for an experiment aimed at identifying an elementary particle of matter, the so-called sterile neutrino. For this, Italy needed a source of strong radiation from radioactive cerium-144. The Russian plant Mayak was going to deliver it. After the accident, Russian scientists said they were not able to produce a cerium source of neutrinos with the necessary parameters.
Read more about the accident here.