MOSCOW, September 24 (RIA Novosti) - A group of scientists from Russia's state-run nuclear agency Rosatom is set to examine the Kuril Islands for traces of radioactive waste from Fukushima, the head of the laboratory for radioecological safety at the Obninsk Institute for Nuclear Power Engineering told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.
"During the expedition, which will start on Thursday from Vladivostok, we will collect samples of water, air, soil and maritime life. Initial studies of these samples will be conducted right on the ship, which is equipped with technology that allows carrying out preliminary analyses. Final results will be obtained after the samples have been examined at the Radium Institute in Saint Petersburg," laboratory head Stanislav Shabelev said.
According to Shebelev, the 28-day expedition aims to find out if radioactive traces remain in the area since Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster.
"Samples collected in 2010-2011 showed that everything here is pretty clean, but you must constantly obtain new data. We have knowledge of the radiation situation near the [Fukushima] plant, but not of how the radiation spreads in the sea and in the coastal zone. On this expedition we can get accurate information on the spread of radionuclides. This data is necessary for safe development of nuclear energy," the scientist said.
Some 100 students from the Naval Academy of the Maritime State University in Vladivostok will join the expedition, university spokesman Sergei Zaika told RIA Novosti.
"In addition to Rosatom, experts from Roshydromet and the Ministry of Defense will join the expedition," Zaika added.
In 2011, the largest nuclear incident since the Chernobyl disaster took place in Japan. The accident occurred when the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was hit by a 14-meter (46-foot) tsunami, triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake.
The tsunami caused a meltdown of several of the plant's reactors and a major leakage of radioactive materials. A complete elimination of its consequences is expected to take up to 40 years.