Russia appears to have kept a major nuclear accident secret. But scientists called the ‘Ring of 5’ tracked the plume of radiation to its source. A group of scientists called the “Ring of Five” noticed something unusual in the atmosphere in late 2017: Air across Europe showed “unprecedented” levels of the radioactive isotope ruthenium-106. The isotope is often made when reprocessing nuclear fuel. “We were stunned,” Georg Steinhauser, a professor at the University of Hanover in Germany who is part of the group, told Business Insider in August. “We did not have any anticipation that there might be some radioactivity in the air. We were just measuring air filters as we do on a weekly basis, 52 times a year, and suddenly there was an unexpected result.” The Ring of Five, which had been monitoring Europe’s atmosphere for elevated levels of radiation since the mid-’80s, spent the next two years looking for the cause of the spike. The culprit, they said in a study released in July, was an undisclosed nuclear accident at the Mayak nuclear facility in Russia, which was once the center of the Soviet nuclear-weapons program. Mayak was also the site of the 1957 Kyshtym explosion, the third-worst nuclear accident; more than 10,000 nearby residents were forced to evacuate.
Business Insider 20th Dec 2019 read more »