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Veal In Moscow Shows High Radiation Levels

May 31, 1986

MOSCOW (AP) _ A cut of veal purchased at a Moscow food market and analyzed in France had radiation six to 10 times above the level considered safe by the European Common Market, a diplomat said Saturday.

The finding prompted some embassies to recommend that their nationals avoid buying Soviet veal and pork for now, because those meats are said to be particularly prone to absorbing radioactivity.

French Embassy spokesman Edmond Ponboujian said the veal was purchased about 10 days ago, sent to Paris for testing and found to have a high level of contamination of caesium, one of the chemicals released when the Chernobyl nuclear reactor was torn apart by an explosion April 26. Details of the sample results were not provided.

Several Western embassies in the Soviet capital have been sampling water and foodstuffs, particularly dairy products and lettuce, and sharing results in order to advise foreign residents here. No embassies reported any cause for alarm, except for possible risks to pregnant women and to infants from drinking milk. Initial samples of milk uncovered some contamination.

Ponboujian said the French Embassy is regularly sampling meat, fruit and vegetables.

The U.S. Embassy, which sent milk, lettuce, Moscow tap water and yogurt to the United States for testing, said on May 24 that one milk sample it took contained twice the level of radiation considered safe for pregnant women and infants.

Officials of the Western embassies have stressed that they do not see any cause for alarm for the general population, however. Soviet officials have said that there are no health dangers.

The newspaper Sovietskaya Kultura on Saturday carried a report about a Communist Party member who shirked his duties following the accident.

A man identified as Slava Staroshchuk was said to have fled to the Black Sea port of Odessa and to have sent a telegram demanding ″the money you owe me.″

The paper gave few details about the case, one of several that newspapers have carried about people who abandoned their jobs and left the disaster area. Most newspaper accounts have focused on the bravery of workers in the initial accident and subsequent cleanup efforts.

There were no detailed reports on the situation in Chernobyl on Saturday. The government newspaper Izvestia carried a report about truck drivers bringing decontamination and other supplies to the reactor site.

It said that a new road was quickly constructed to shorten the distance between the village of Kolpachi and the damaged reactor. Previously, the only route was a roundabout one about eight miles long. According to Izvestia, truck drivers took a more direct route to lessen their time in the exposed area but because that kicked up so much dust, a new, shortened road was paved.

Friday night, several Soviet pop entertainers gave a concert to raise money for a Chernobyl disaster fund, but newspapers on Saturday carried no accounts of it.

Soviet pop queen Alla Pugacheva had predicted that the concert, held at an indoor stadium built for the 1980 Moscow Olympics before about 30,000 people, would raise the equivalent of up to $2 million.

Meanwhile, the official news agency Tass reported that a group of Americans traveling in the Soviet Union contributed to the Chernobyl fund.

Tass said they were tourists, but gave no details.

It quoted a Virginia Santer as saying that the contribution stated the group’s desire to broaden friendship between the two countries and that the Chernobyl accident demonstrated ″how small our world is.″ A man identified as Dr. Saul Malkiel of Boston was quoted as saying that the accident made one imagine what would happen if nuclear weapons were exploded.

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