Increased radiation levels reported in Europe, Russia main suspect

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Increased radioactivity has been reported in parts of central and western Europe during the past week. According to Germany’s Federal Office for Radiation Protection (FORP) last Thursday, the heightened levels were detected at several trace weather service measuring stations in Europe and at six locations in Germany.

An increase of ruthenium-106 particles has been detected in the air in Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.

Officials say there is no need to panic, and they’re claiming that the elevated radiation levels do not pose a threat to human health, but they’re not sure about the origin of the material and think it may be coming from Russia.

Because only ruthenium-106 has been detected, a nuclear power plant accident can be ruled out.

“New analyses of the source of the radioactive material are likely to indicate a release in the southern Ural,” said FORP, “but other regions in Southern Russia cannot be excluded.”

Calling speculation about the country as the source “invalid,” the Russian state atomic energy corporation, Rosatom, rejected the report, saying, “The radiation situation around all Russian nuclear facilities is within the norm and corresponds to natural background radiation.”

The Wednesday statement also noted that Russia’s meteorology service has not detected ruthenium-106 on Russian territory, excepting St. Petersburg, from September 25 to October 7. They added that the ruthenium-106 concentration in St. Petersburg last week was “insignificant” and four times lower than the allowed level.

Similar spikes in radioactive particles have occurred across Europe in the past, but they are rare.

In February, trace amounts of radioactive iodine-131 were detected across parts of Europe. The iodine faded, and the source of the radioactivity was never located, Motherboard reports. France’s IRSN institute announced the trace amounts were detected over Norway, Finland, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, France and Spain.

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