Environment Pollution in MultiCountries on October 06 2017 04:14 AM (UTC).
A cloud of radioactive pollution over Europe in recent weeks indicates an unidentified nuclear incident happened at some facility in Russia or Kazakhstan in the last week of September, French nuclear safety institute IRSN said on Thursday. The IRSN ruled out an incident in a nuclear reactor, saying it was likely to be in a nuclear fuel treatment site or centre for radioactive medicine. There has been no impact on human health or the environment in Europe, the IRSN said. IRSN, the technical arm of French nuclear regulator ASN, said in a statement it could not pinpoint the location of the release of radioactive material but that based on weather patterns, the most plausible zone lay south of the Ural mountains, between the Urals and the Volga river. This could indicate Russia or possibly Kazakhstan, an IRSN official said. "Russian authorities have said they are not aware of an accident on their territory," IRSN director Jean-Marc Peres told Reuters. He added that the institute had not yet been in contact with Kazakh authorities. A spokeswoman for the Russian Emergencies Ministry said she could not immediately comment. It was not immediately possible to reach authorities in Kazakhstan or the Kazakh embassy in Moscow. Mr Peres said that in recent weeks IRSN and several other nuclear safety institutes in Europe had measured high levels of levels of ruthenium 106, a radioactive nuclide that is the product of splitting atoms in a nuclear reactor and which does not occur naturally. IRSN estimates that the quantity of ruthenium 106 released was major, between 100 and 300 teraBecquerels, and that if an incident of this magnitude had happened in France it would have required the evacuation or sheltering of people in a radius of a few kilometres around the accident site. The ruthenium 106 was probably released in a nuclear fuel treatment site or centre for radioactive medicine, Mr Peres said. Because of its short half-life of about a year, ruthenium 106 is used in nuclear medicine.
Slovenia has become the latest European country where low levels of the radioactive isotope Ruthenium-106 have been detected in the atmosphere. The Nuclear Safety Administration said Monday the level was so low it did not pose a danger to health or the environment.
German officials say that a spike in radioactivity has been detected in the air in western and central Europe. Elevated levels of the isotope Ruthenium-106 have been reported in Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and France since September 29. The source of the Ruthenium-106 is still unknown, but calculations indicate it may have been released in eastern Europe. Experts from Germany's Federal Office for Radiation Protection (FORP) raised the alarm yesterday, after five Weather Service stations detected traces of the particle. This follows air monitoring stations across the continent recording an increase in the isotope. The levels detected are low, 17,000 times lower than the limit set for this particle, and do not pose a threat to human health as of yet. Officials added that the source could not be an accident at a nuclear power plant. In a written statement, a spokesman said: 'New analyses on the source of the radioactive substance ruthenium-106 suggest a release in eastern Europe, at a distance of more than 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from Germany. 'Since only ruthenium-106 has been detected, an accident in a nuclear power plant can be excluded as a cause. 'With this small amount of radioactivity there is no health hazard to the population.' Ruthenium is part of the platinum group of metals. Ruthenium-106 is an isotope, or variant with a different number of neutrons in its nucleus, used for radiation therapy to treat eye tumours. It is sometimes as a source of energy, known as radioisotope thermoelectric generators, used to power satellites.