Human right activist revealed radiation accident

In the beginning of March, human right activist the head of Dimitrovgrad Centre for Assistance on Citizens’ Initiatives Mikhail Piskunov managed to get approval for his application for the documents on 3-week radioactive discharge happened in 1997 at the Nuclear Reactors Research Institute in Dimitrovgrad. Dimitrovgrad is a city in Ulyanovsk county, its population amounts to 50,000. The Nuclear Reactors Research Institute is the biggest nuclear research centre in Russia.

The mentioned radioactive discharge happened in summer 1997 and presented big danger for the local inhabitants. Then, one of the research reactors discharged continuously radioactive iodine-131 in the atmosphere what is rather harmful for the thyroid. In some days the daily permitted levels of iodine discharge were exceeded in 15-20 times. Mikhail Piskunov and his colleagues from the Centre for Assistance on Citizens’ Initiatives conducted independent public investigation and came to the conclusion that the management of the Centre have to be responsible for the non-disclosure of the information about the health threat to the population and lack of protection measures, like iodine protective treatment, reported.

Mikhail Piskunov published these and other facts in the local newspaper what provoked the lawsuit against him filed by the general director of the Nuclear Reactors’ Research Centre Alexey Grachev, who is also a member of the local parliament. The first and the second instance court agreed with the director who accused the activist of lie. The last instance court, however, disagreed with the previous decisions and demanded to return the case to the first instance court and also obliged the nuclear director to present the documents regarding the accident as Mikhail Piskunov had required at the fist hearing. The documents were presented but without 16 valuable attachments revealing the details of the radioactive discharge. The court again obliged the director to present 16 attachments.

“We believe, the nuclear company should be hold responsible for the consequences of the 3-week long radioactive discharge and the damage to the health of the local population. So far, we have to prove in court that the incident in the Nuclear Reactors’ Research Institute is a “radiation accident”, according to the current federal law “On radiation safety of the population” as it is written in our article and questioned by the general director of the Nuclear Reactors’ Research Institute, but not an ordinary “event” as it stands in the documents of the nuclear centre” said Mikhail Piskunov to