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笼罩欧洲的神秘辐射云和一段前苏联悲伤往事

更新时间:2017-11-25 8:04:54 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

A Radiation Cloud, and a Mystery, From Russia
笼罩欧洲的神秘辐射云和一段前苏联悲伤往事

MOSCOW — When a container of radioactive waste exploded at the Mayak factory 60 years ago, in one of the worst accidents of the nuclear age, the episode was so shrouded in secrecy that even residents of nearby towns had little clue of the danger.

莫斯科——60年前,马亚克核电厂(Mayak)一个核废料槽发生爆炸,成为核时代最严重的事故之一,事发后有关部门严加保密,连附近城镇的居民对危险都毫无察觉。

That secrecy proved deadly.

结果,那是个致命的秘密。

Among the estimated 272,000 people who were exposed was a newborn girl who withered and died from radiation sickness. Taisia A. Fomina, a friend of the family’s, recalled that the girl’s father, ignorant of the danger, welded a bed frame from irradiated metal recycled from the nuclear plant. The child was poisoned as she slept.

估计27.2万人暴露在辐射下,其中包括一名因辐射病而死亡的新生女婴。这家人的朋友塔伊西娅·A·福明娜(Taisia A. Fomina)回忆说,在不知道有危险的情况下,女婴的父亲用从核电厂回收的辐照金属焊接了床架。孩子在睡觉时受到毒害。

Residents learned of the radiation risk only a year after the accident, said Fomina, now 84. “Some rumors went around town that something blew up at the factory, but we didn’t know what,” she added. “Of course, they didn’t tell us.”

现年84岁的福明娜说,当地居民在核泄漏事件发生一年后才得知辐射的风险。“镇上流传着谣言,说厂子里有什么东西爆炸了,但我们不知道是什么,”她补充道。“当然,他们也没告诉我们。”

Now, another possible accident at Mayak, a plant at the heart of Russia’s nuclear program, and the paucity of information coming out about it, is again raising alarms.

现在,马亚克可能又出现了一起意外——这是一座居于俄罗斯核项目中心地位的核电站,加之相关信息的缺乏,正再度引起人们的警觉。

Last month, French and German radiation safety officials identified the southern Ural Mountain region, home of Mayak, as the likely source of a cloud of a radioactive isotope, ruthenium 106, that they detected wafting over Europe. The plant at Mayak reprocesses spent fuel and produces isotopes.

上个月,法国和德国的辐射安全管理官员确认,他们探测到的由放射性同位素钌106构成、在欧洲上空漂移的云团,可能来自乌拉尔山脉南端,那里是马亚克核电厂的所在地。马亚克核电厂对乏燃料和同位素进行后处理。

Ruthenium 106, which is obtained from spent fuel, is used mostly in medicine. It is considered not particularly dangerous because of its short half-life, 373 days, and harmless at the low concentrations that have turned up in Europe.

钌106是从乏燃料中提取、主要用于医药。因其半衰期(half-life)短,只有373天,因此被认为不具有特别的危险性,欧洲这次的低浓度状态,不会构成危害。

But mystery lingers around the cloud all the same.

但围绕这簇云团的神秘感仍然挥之不去。

The German Federal Office for Radiation Protection reported the radiation cloud, and then on Oct. 9 pinpointed its likely origin as the southern Ural Mountains in Russia or Kazakhstan. That is near the closed town now called Ozersk but known as Chelyabinsk-40 when Fomina worked there as a young woman from 1954 to 1960. The agency said that the cause of the cloud “is still not clear.”

德国联邦辐射防护局(The German Federal Office for Radiation Protection)报告了这个辐射云团,并于10月9日指出,乌拉尔山脉南端位于俄罗斯或哈萨克斯坦的地带可能是其来源。那里接近一座现已关闭的名为奥焦尔斯克(Ozersk)的小镇,福明娜于1954到1960年在那里工作时,它被称为车里雅宾斯克-40(Chelyabinsk-40)。该机构称,云团出现的起因“目前尚不明确”。

French radiation safety authorities mapped wind patterns and reached the same conclusion: the contamination was floating in from somewhere near Mayak, a region of cedar forests, lakes and swamps about 1,000 miles east of Moscow.

法国辐射安全部门了绘制了风向图,得出了同样的结论:污染物是从马亚克附近漂来,那是莫斯科以东约1000英里(约合1600公里)的一个布满雪松林、湖泊和沼泽的地带。

The French nuclear safety institute, which tracked the cloud, said that if the accident had occurred in France, authorities would have taken measures to protect the local population within a few miles, and taken precautions over longer distances to halt the sale of contaminated crops. But the concentrations in the air over Europe, the institute said in a Nov. 9 report, “are of no consequence for human health and for the environment.”

追踪该云团的法国核安全协会(French nuclear safety institute)称,如果这起事故发生在法国,当局会采取措施来保护生活在附近几英里以内的当地居民,并采取更长距离的预防措施,制止销售被污染的农作物。但在11月9日发布的报告中,该协会称,凝聚在欧洲上空的云团浓度“不会对人体健康和环境造成影响”。

Puzzlingly, on Oct. 9, regional authorities in the Chelyabinsk region, home of the plant, issued a statement saying that the Russian state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, had regularly tested the air and that “the radiation background in the region is within norms.”

奇怪的是,在10月9日,核电站所在地车里雅宾斯克当地的政府发表了一个声明,称俄罗斯国家原子能公司(Rosatom)常规性地对空气进行检测,发现“该地区的背景辐射并未超出正常值”。

A string of official denials followed. The press offices of several Russian nuclear plants issued statements denying any accidents or leaks and asserting that they had detected no elevated levels of ruthenium 106 in the air. One spokesman, for a plant in Smolensk, told RIA, a state news agency, “this is a rare element and we would have noticed it.”

随之而来的是一连串官方否认。几座俄罗斯核电站的新闻办公室均发表声明,否认出现了任何意外或泄漏事件,并宣称它们没有探测到空气中钌106的增加。位于斯摩棱斯克(Smolensk)的核电站的发言人告诉官方的俄罗斯新闻社(RIA),“钌是一个稀有元素,如果有的话我们肯定已经察觉到了。”

Rosatom, which runs the Mayak site, announced on Oct. 11 that, “the radiation condition around all nuclear objects in the Russian Federation are within norms, and correspond to background radiation levels.” The press office of the Ministry of Emergency Situations said on Oct. 13 that “no radiation cloud was found over the territory of the Ural Mountains.”

俄罗斯原子能公司是马亚克核电站的所有者,它在10月11日宣布,“俄罗斯联邦所有核物体周围的辐射状况都在常规范围内,符合本底辐射水平。”俄罗斯紧急情况部(Ministry of Emergency Situations)的新闻办公室在10月13日表示,“在乌拉尔山脉界内上空没有发现辐射云。”

Then this month, the statements suddenly shifted. The agency responsible for monitoring radiation in Russia, Roshydromet, said it had in fact found in late September and early October what it called “extremely high” levels of ruthenium 106 at two monitoring sites near Mayak.

但到这个月,有关声明突然改口。俄罗斯负责监测辐射水平的机构水文气象和环境监测局(Roshydromet)表示,它于九月末和十月初,在两座靠近马亚克的核电站探测到了所谓“极高水平”的钌106。

“The cover-up is more interesting than the accident,” said Frank N. von Hippel, a physicist at Princeton who advised the Clinton White House and who has repeatedly visited Russian nuclear sites.

“掩盖比事故更引起了人们的注意,”普林斯顿大学(Princeton)的物理学家弗兰克·N·冯希佩尔(Frank N. von Hippel)说。他曾担任克林顿政府的顾问,曾多次访问俄罗斯的核设施。

“I think they’re probably more worried about upsetting the locals than the world,” von Hippel said. “This could be very disruptive politically of the calm that Putin has imposed on the place. The environmentalists are the most likely ignition point for any unrest.”

“我认为,他们很可能更担心的是惹怒当地人,而非全世界,”冯希佩尔说。“普京在那里表现出来的镇静在政治上可能极具破坏力。环保主义者最可能是任何动乱的引爆点。”

The Roshydromet statement about the ruthenium 106 levels was undated. Officials at the agency pointed it out on their website Friday to a researcher from Greenpeace, Rashid R. Alimov, in response to a question about the radiation cloud posed by the conservation group last week.

俄罗斯水文气象和环境监测局关于钌106水平的声明没有注明日期。该机构的官员们是上周五,在回应环保组织上周提出的辐射云质疑时,在自己的网站上向绿色和平组织(Greenpeace)的研究员拉希德·R·阿利莫夫(Rashid R. Alimov)指出这点的。

The agency then published a statement saying that “the discovery of even insignificant concentrations of radioactive isotopes on Russian territory speaks to the high effectiveness,” of the Russian monitoring system. Environmental organizations, the statement said, were publicizing the incident to raise money.

该机构随后发表了一份声明,称“在俄罗斯领土上哪怕发现了非常轻微的放射性同位素浓度升高,都说明俄罗斯的监测系统很有效”。该声明称,环保组织宣传该事件,是为了筹集资金。

“The heightened attention to this monitoring was created by some conservation organizations in the period of their budget formation for next year, with the goal of ‘elevating’ their importance in the eyes of the public,” it said.

声明称:“某些环保组织在筹划明年预算的时期,提高了对该监测结果的重视,目的是‘提升’它们在公众眼中的重要性。”

Alimov said, “They say we were worsening the situation, driving everybody into a panic.” In fact, he said, Greenpeace has emphasized that the now dissipating cloud over Europe is harmless, though it may have posed dangers near the source.

阿利莫夫说:“他们说我们在恶化局势,让所有人都陷入了恐慌。”他还说,事实上,绿色和平组织已经强调过,目前在欧洲上空消散的云是无害的,尽管它可能在源头附近造成了危险。

What is worrisome, Alimov said, is the Russian government’s apparent reluctance to publicize information about a radiation leak, and a potential health hazard.

阿利莫夫表示,令人担忧的是,俄罗斯政府显然不愿公布辐射泄漏的信息以及潜在的健康危害。

Officials at Mayak denied in interviews with the newspaper Kommersant that the plant was the source of the leak. Rosatom, the nuclear company, did not return calls to the press office.

马亚克的官员们在接受《生意人报》(Kommersant)采访时,否认自己的工厂是泄漏的源头。俄罗斯国家原子能公司没有回复本报记者的电话。

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, coming on the heels of the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986, the framers of Russia’s new constitution prohibited the classification of information about the environment, though that provision has been flouted before. The Mayak spill in 1957 is often compared in its severity with the two worst power plant meltdowns, at Chernobyl and at Fukushima, Japan.

由于1986年的切尔诺贝利核事故后紧接着苏联解体,俄罗斯新宪法的制定者们禁止对环境信息保密,不过这项规定之前就曾被公开违抗。1957年的马亚克核泄漏事件经常被拿来与切尔诺贝利和日本福岛这两起最严重的核电站熔毁事故相提并论。

In Chelyabinsk-40, residents were left largely in the dark, and the scope of the disaster was suppressed for decades. The source of the radiation that killed the daughter of Fomina’s friend — the radioactive bed — was discovered only after a teenage girl living in an apartment one floor lower also died. Three years later, the infant’s mother also died.

车里雅宾斯克-40的居民当年大多被蒙在鼓里,关于灾难范围的信息被压制了几十年。福明娜的朋友,也就是那个做辐射床的人,在楼下公寓一个十几岁的女孩也死去后,才弄清了导致女儿死亡的辐射源。三年后,这名婴儿的母亲也去世了。

“People just didn’t know,” Fomina said. “Radiation doesn’t smell.”

“人们毫不知情,”她说。“辐射没有味道。”

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