Scientists have been left scratching their heads after a radioactive cloud of pollution from an unknown source drifted over Europe in late September.
The French nuclear safety institute IRSN said, “it was likely to be in a nuclear fuel treatment site or centre for radioactive medicine.”
The cloud is currently deemed “harmless” and although experts have not yet been able to pinpoint where the radioactive pollution came from, the IRSN believes it could have originated in a nuclear facility in Russia or 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 release https://t.co/Y8uzAxPnpU pic.twitter.com/OP14AjwE5L
— IRSN Radioprotection (@radioprotection) November 9, 2017
The radioactive pollutant in question is said to be “Ruthenium 106”, which is described as:
“A hard, silvery-white metal with a shiny surface. An isotope, or variant with a different number of neutrons in its nucleus, used for radiation therapy to treat eye tumours. It is sometimes used as a source of energy, known as radioisotope thermoelectric generators, used to power satellites.”
Director for of the IRSN Jean-Marc Peres revealed in a statement, “Russian authorities have said they are not aware of an accident on their territory.”
While the health director of the IRSN, Jean-Christophe Gariel clarified that now either Russia or Kazakhs is in charge of identifying where the source came from.
If neither of those authorities can successfully pinpoint the contamination location, the United Nations will intervene.
(image source: Daily Mail)
“The matter is closed as far as France is concerned. It’s not a problem for France, what is not satisfactory is that ruthenium-106 has been detected across Europe and that poses a question.
“We have come up with a plausible zone of where it could have come from; we can’t do any more. Russia is a vast country and we’re not aware of all the installations on its territory. The ball is now in the other camp.
“I have spoken to my Russian counterparts; these are people we know and they have told me in all honesty they have had no reporting of an accident.”
According to the Daily Mail: “A spokeswoman for the Russian Emergencies Ministry said she could not immediately comment.”
Watch: “Massive Radioactive Cloud Contaminates 28 Countries”: