Source of Ru-106 emissions still a mystery

25 April 2018

A meeting of the commission set up to investigate increased concentrations of the radioactive isotope ruthenium-106 (Ru-106) in the atmosphere in Europe and Russia last year has failed to identify a source of the emissions, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) said on 16 April.

The commission, set up by Russia with Sweden, France, Germany, the UK, Finland and Norway as members, held its second meeting on 11. SSM said, “available data does not provide sufficient information to verify that the Ru-106 emissions originate from any of the activities that have been assumed to cause the event”. However, the commission has said its members can continue to analyse the information independently. Last October, monitoring stations recorded high levels of Ru-106 in the air over most European cities. Scientists from France’s IRSN (Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire) speculated that the source was an accident at a nuclear facility in Russia or Kazakhstan - a suggestion dismissed by both countries.

Monitoring stations in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland all detected very low levels of Ru-106 from late September 2017.

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