The French nuclear safety institute IRSN suspects that the cloud of radioactive pollution over Europe measured in recent weeks is due to an nuclear accident in a nuclear facility in Russia or Kazakhstan in the last week of September.
The IRSN ruled out an accident in a nuclear reactor, saying it was likely to be in a nuclear fuel treatment site or center for radioactive medicine.
IRSN and several other nuclear safety institutes in Europe had measured in the last few weeks 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.
The quantity of ruthenium 106 released was major, between 100 and 300 teraBecquerels. If such an accident had happened in France, emergency evacuation or sheltering of people in a radius of a few kilometers around the accident site would have been issued.
According to IRSN, the most plausible zone lay south of the Ural mountains, between the Urals and the Volga river – thus Russia or possibly Kazakhstan.
Detection of #Ruthenium 106 in France and in Europe in late September : Results of IRSN’s investigations and updated information on the plausibility of the origin of the releasehttps://t.co/C5ztzDniiD pic.twitter.com/1cMDrSxobk
— IRSN France (@IRSNFrance) November 9, 2017
Of course, Russian authorities have said they are not aware of an accident on their territory. Kazakh officials have not been contacted yet.
The nuclear accident didn’t impact human health or the environment in Europe.