Rosatom rejects rumors of Lithuania radioactive leak

Saturday, May 24, 2008

MOSCOW, May 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russian nuclear power agency Rosatom dismissed on Saturday rumors circulating in the country's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad of a radioactive leak from a plant in neighboring Lithuania.

Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov said several journalists had contacted him on Friday asking about an alleged accident at Lithuania's nuclear plant.

"Half-serious reports of an alleged incident at the Ignalina nuclear power plant have already appeared in the blogosphere," he said.

"I would like to warn media in Russian regions near the Baltic of a possible disinformation campaign by unknown individuals via SMS, ICQ, phone calls and social groups, similar to the informational provocation conducted a few days ago around the Leningrad nuclear power plant," Novikov said.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, several Internet forums carried reports of radioactive emissions from the Leningrad nuclear power plant near St. Petersburg, and of a planned evacuation of local residents.

Hackers later attacked Russian nuclear power websites that allow users to check radiation background.

Rosatom said on Friday: "People who stand to lose out from the Russian nuclear power industry's development have an incentive to spread false rumors of an accident at the [Leningrad] nuclear plant."

"This was a planned action by hackers, which has brought down almost all sites providing access to the Automatic Radiation Environment Control System (ASKRO), including the Leningrad NPP site, the rosatom.ru site, and others. For several hours users were unable to reach the sites and obtain reliable information on the situation at the plant."

ASKRO is part of a permanent environment and sanitary control system, one of whose functions is to inform the population on radiation security. Access to the system is open to all visitors on a number of Russian nuclear industry websites. The system works in real-time.

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