Increased levels of radioactivity in northern Europe could possibly be the result of a damaged power plant in Russia, though authorities from the country have insisted there are no issues.
Authorities from the Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish radiation and nuclear safety watchdogs all revealed they had spotted small amounts of radioactive isotopes this month in parts of Finland, southern Scandinavia and the Arctic.
The increased levels of radioactivity are said not to be harmful to humans or the environment, so I don’t think we have to worry about having some sort of Chernobyl-style disaster on our hands, but the cause of the spikes remains unclear.
The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands speculated about the source on Friday, June 26, stating: ‘These calculations show that the radionuclides (radioactive isotopes) come from the direction of Western Russia’, The Independent reports.
The agency continued:
The radionuclides are artificial, that is to say they are man-made. The composition of the nuclides may indicate damage to a fuel element in a nuclear power plant.
Despite its theory however, the agency said a ‘specific source location cannot be identified due to the limited number of measurements.’
Russia has defended itself against the claims, with Russian news agency TASS citing a spokesperson from the state nuclear power operator Rosenergoatom, who said the two nuclear power plants in northwestern Russia haven’t reported any problems.
The spokesperson said radiation levels at the two plants had not changed for the whole of June, adding:
Both stations are working in normal regime. There have been no complaints about the equipment’s work. No incidents related to release of radionuclide outside containment structures have been reported.
TASS said the Leningrad plant, near St Petersburg, and the Kola plant, near the northern city of Murmansk, both have radiation levels within the norm.
The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, and its Finnish and Norwegian counterparts, chose not to speculate about what may have caused the increased levels of radiation.
Earlier this week, the Swedish agency said ‘it is not possible now to confirm what could be the source of the increased levels’ of radioactivity, or where any clouds containing radioactive isotopes may have originated.
Russia is one of the largest producers of nuclear power in the world, with 10 plants currently in operation and several more under construction.
The country’s nuclear power operator has also signed billions of dollars-worth of contracts to build nuclear power plants using Russian technology in other countries, including India, Turkey and Iran.
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