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False: Hazard of Radiation with Ruthenium 106 Comes From Romania, Not Russia

The online version of the newspaper KP v Moldove (Kp.md) on 26 November 2017 published a story claiming that a radioactive cloud containing Ruthenium 106 had been registered above several European countries, and that the highest concentration thereof was above Romania. Although international research shows the cloud, which had indeed traveled a part of the European countries, had originated in Russia, the author of the news story suggests the false idea that the source was Romania, and claims that the Moldovan authorities are hiding it. As a result, one concluded that the radioactive cloud was an imminent danger for the Moldovan inhabitants but that the authorities kept silent ‘to not compromise the western neighbor’, i.e. Romania.

The story “Radioaktivnoe oblako, nakryvshee Moldovu, prishlo к nam ne iz Rossi, a iz Rumynii?” (in translation: “Radioactive Cloud Covering Moldova Came To Us Not From Russia But From Romania?”) notes that, although the media announces Russia to be the source of radiation, however, according to a map “in the neighboring Romania, red dots show that the level of concentration is below the standard whereas in Russia the isotopic concentration detected is much lower than the standard.” The author does not make reference to documents issued by international agencies that monitor the level of radiation in the atmosphere. Without quoting experts in this area, she concludes that it is not possible for the concentration of Ruthenium 106 to be lower in the place claimed to be the source of pollution, i.e. Russia, than in other places. The story also says that this problem has persisted for already one month and a half in Romania and alleges that the Moldovan authorities are hiding it, our citizens being in danger.

International research shows the highest concentration of Ruthenium 106 was found in a region between Ural Mountains and Volga River

The media have been talking about the existence of this radioactive cloud above some European countries for several months. In September and October inst., several monitoring centers detected unusual amounts of radiations above the entire Europe. The Radioprotection and Nuclear Security Institute (IRSN) of France issued then a report that concluded that the levels of Ruthenium 106 were higher between the southern part of the Ural Mountains and Volga River, and that the cloud was crossing a number of European countries. The Russian authorities vehemently denied the source of pollution to be their country.

When the IRSN issued its press release, it also contained a map with red dots showing where the cloud was located at that time. When the map was presented, the cloud was above Romania, hence a part of the media started alleging that the source of pollution was Romania. In October, the Bucharest-based National Commission for Controlling Nuclear Activities (CNCAN) issued a communique specifying that “no activities of production, transport, or use of Ruthenium 106 have been carried out in Romania’s territory in this period. To specify that the presence of Ruthenium in Romania’s territory has not been detected anymore after 3 October inst.”

Russia admits the source of elimination of radiation to come from Ural Mountains area

Since all the international measurements showed that the source of emanation of Ruthenium 106 was the Ural Mountains, finally, the Russian authorities admitted they had this problem. Back on 20 November inst. (i.e. six days before the publishing of the story on Kp.md), the Russian weather services agency Roshydromet practically confirmed IRSN’s conclusions, and namely, that the levels of Ruthenium 106 were nearly one thousand times higher than normally in the samples examined by the two weather stations located in the southern part of Ural Mountains, in the Chelyabinsk region. However, the Kp.md story did not mention this but instead manipulated with an older image and information, from the times the Ruthenium 106 cloud was above Romania, in order to insinuate that it was Romania to blame.

The Association of Independent Press (API) requested the newsroom of “KP v Moldove” to specify which of their sources had claimed Romania was the hotbed of radiation, but we have never received an answer.

Lilia Zaharia

This story has been produced as part of the Media Campaign Against False and Biased Information STOP FALS!, carried out by the Association of Independent Press (API), Independent Journalism Center (IJC) and the Association of Independent TV Journalists of Moldova (ATVJI).

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