IAEA seeks source of radioisotopes detected over Northern Europe

June 30, 2020, 9:19AMNuclear News

The International Atomic Energy Agency has emphasized that elevated concentrations of cesium-134, cesium-137, and ruthenium-103 recently detected over Northern Europe pose no risk to human health or the environment, even as the agency continues to investigate their origin.

Seeking information: The IAEA contacted European member states on June 27, seeking more data to help in identifying the origin of the radioisotopes first detected in Sweden on June 22 and 23. The IAEA stated in a June 29 press release that 29 member states had voluntarily reported that there were no events in their territories that could have caused the detected measurements.

Voluntary reporting: The 29 states that confirmed no events and provided measurements were Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

In addition, four countries that had not been approached by the IAEA—Algeria, Georgia, Tajikistan, and the United Arab Emirates—also reported no events.

Questions for Russia: Russia’s absence from the list of voluntary reporters was conspicuous given that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization tweeted a map on June 26 indicating that the radioisotopes could have originated in areas of northwestern Russia. The same tweet said that the three detected radioisotopes were associated with nuclear fission.

While news media have reported Russian denials of a nuclear event, the IAEA’s investigation is continuing.

Quote: “The levels reported to the IAEA are very low and pose no risk to human health and the environment,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi. “I expect more member states to provide relevant information and data to us, and we will continue to inform the public.”

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