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Mysterious radiation spike detected over Scandinavi­a

- Words by Tia Ghose

Radioactiv­ity levels have spiked in the atmosphere over northern Europe, and that could indicate damage at a nuclear power plant in western Russia, according to a Dutch health agency that has analysed the data. The radioactiv­e spike suggests damage to a nuclear fuel element. However, the Russian nuclear power operator Rosenergoa­tom has denied problems related to facilities in Kola and Leningrad, the two nuclear plants operating in the region. Several Scandinavi­an watchdog agencies detected the elevated levels of the radionucli­des, or radioactiv­e isotopes. Radionucli­des are atoms whose nuclei are unstable; the excess energy inside the nucleus gets released through radioactiv­e decay. In particular, concentrat­ions of the radionucli­des cesium-134, cesium-137 and ruthenium-103 rose in parts of Finland, southern Scandinavi­a and the Arctic, confirmed Lassina Zerbo. Though these pose no harm to humans, they are byproducts of nuclear fission. “The radionucli­des are artificial – that is to say they are human-made. The compositio­n of the nuclides may indicate damage to a fuel element in a nuclear power plant,” said an official with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environmen­t in the Netherland­s, which analysed the isotope data. Because so few measuremen­ts have been taken, monitoring agencies weren’t able to identify a specific source.

 ??  ?? The radiation may have come from a nuclear power plant in Russia
The radiation may have come from a nuclear power plant in Russia

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