After an extremely high content of radioactive substances, which was nearly 1,000 times above the usual radioactive pollution level, was registered in the Russian Chelyabinsk region in September, Lithuania sent a note to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
© Reuters/Scanpix

"We have drafted and sent a note to IAEA over the incident, calling for scrutiny of all circumstances and ensure (compliance to) the 1986 Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident," Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas told BNS.

Vaičiūnas said he asked earlier this week for the European Commission's (EC) support on the matter.

"I was clearly assured that immediate steps would be taken shortly to establish the IAEA procedures to ensure everything in IAEA. The European Commission would double-check. I believe we will have the results shortly," said the energy minister.

During one of Europe's biggest wind energy conferences in Amsterdam on Tuesday, Vaičiūnas met with EC Deputy President for Energy Gerassimos Thomas.

"I expressed my huge astonishment over the process that occurred – the leak of ruthenium (ruthenium-106 isotope). The fact occurred in late September and was only established two months later. There are certain instruments and international conventions for this. I raised the question about why the instruments don't work and stated my clear position that we cannot trust the development of nuclear energy in Belarus, regardless of its technological credibility," said the energy minister.

Russia's meteorological service confirmed at the end of November that the extremely high concentration of ruthenium-106 had been recorded in the country's few regions close to the station in Argayash village in the Chelyabinsk region in southern Ural, exceeding the usual level by a factor of 986.

The figures were established close to the nuclear company Majak.

Russia disclosed the information only after France's radiation safety and nuclear safety institute (IRSN) announced on Nov. 9 that the samples of air taken on Sept. 27 through Oct. 13 contained the radioactive isotope, ruthenium-106.

Ruthenium-106 forms in a nuclear reactor during atom splitting, it does not exist naturally. It is also used in medical equipment used for radiation therapy.

Lithuania's officials say the incident heightens Lithuania's fears over the Astravyets nuclear power plant under construction in Belarus by Russia's Rosatom concern.

BNS
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