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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Measured Approach To the Radiation Hunt

Residents of Moscow's Frunzenskaya naberezhnaya area just beyond the Ring Road recently got a scare when a local newspaper announced it had found "powerful sources of radiation" in the neighborhood.


The newspaper, Commersant Daily, pinpointed the source as a firm called Nuklon on 1st. Frunzenskaya, near the Defense Ministry's General Staff headquarters. Some residents posted copies of the ominous article in area entryways.


"I'd be afraid to walk around with my child in the area", one Muscovite said upon learning of the article.


So should area residents board up their apartments and flee?


Although most Muscovites must rely on fear and rumor to make such decisions, Alexander Khalangov takes a more measured approach. His method? He takes out a Geiger counter and calibrates radiation emissions, which is his official job as head of Moscow's four-person safety inspection team.


There are sources of radiation everywhere", he said as he rode over to measure 1st. Frunzcnskaya. "In Moscow, there are always between 14 and 20 microroentgens of radiation per hour; that's safe for practically all life because it's natural".


In the hunt for the publicized "powerful source of radiation" Khalangov brought along Alexander Lanko, who waved about the long metal tube that senses the radiation while monitoring changes by headphones.


His first target was an apartment building once reserved for top party members and KGB agents. The initial reading, 16 to 24 microroentgens, was a tiny bit over the city's normal level, but entirely safe, he said.


Then as the Geiger counter neared the area of the supposed radiation, the numbers actually fell, first to the 9 to 14 range, then to 15 to 17.


"There is no danger to the population, it's an absolutely normal level", Khalangov said.


Soon after, the team walked over to the Defense Ministry's General Staff Building, the place that masterminded the largest nuclear build-up in world history.


"What, do you think there are atomic bombs here? " Khalangov asked a visitor. "It's just an office building where generals sit around smoking, drinking and pushing around pencils".


Surely enough, the radiation levels were in a safe 11 to 23 microroentgen range.


As for the newspaper article originally stirring up concern, Nuklon's safety director, Alexander Orlyov, said it was based on disinformation from a rival firm.


On leaving the area, Khalangov said city residents should be more concerned about radiation from food transported from Chernobyl and other radiated areas, as well as from computers, which he said create "dead air" that is potentially harmful.