Radioactive pollution over Europe detected but source not identified

A cloud of radioactive pollution traversed Europe in recent weeks. Since September 29, a slight increase in the isotope Ruthenium-106 has been measured in the air in Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and France.

Nuclear safety institutes in Europe have measured high levels of levels of ruthenium-106, a radioactive nuclide that is the product of splitting atoms that does not occur naturally. The IRSN , which is the French nuclear safety institute, on Thursday,  ruled out an accident in a nuclear reactor, saying it was likely to be in a nuclear fuel treatment site or centre for radioactive medicine. Fortunately, no impact on human health or the environment in Europe it’s supposed to be produced. Monitoring stations in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland all detected very low levels of ruthenium-106 from late September.


The most plausible zone of the accident lay south of the Ural mountains, between the Urals and the Volga river. However, “Russian authorities have said they are not aware of an accident on their territory,” IRSN director Jean-Marc Peres told the media. Kazakhstan could be involved too but had no reaction. IRSN estimates a significant quantity of ruthenium-106 was released, between 100 and 300 terabecquerels. Because of its short half-life of about a year, ruthenium-106 is used in nuclear medicine – for example in cancer therapy for eye tumours – but can also be released when nuclear fuel is reprocessed.