Europe receives radioactive Ruthenium 106 cloud

Ruthenium 106 release in Europe, IRSN map

Recently the French Institute for Radioactivity and Nuclear Safety (IRSN, initials of its name in French) has issued a statement about a cloud containing Ruthenium 106. Possibly its origin is from Russia or Kazakhstan, whose release of this radioactive nuclide is commonly used in nuclear medicine. Before continuing, you highlight that the IRSN investigations confirm that the concentrations of Ruthenium 106 detected over Europe have no consequences for human health or the environment.

During the period of September 27 and November 13, the stations of Seyne-sur-Me, Nice and Ajaccio revealed the presence of Ruthenium 106 in the traces. Various European stations that have been connected to the IRSN since October 3 confirmed the radioactive presence. The results that have been obtained as of October 6 indicate that there is a constant decrease in Ruthenium. Further, since October 13, detection ceases in areas of France. Later, at present, it seems that the traces of Ruthenium are non-existent, and they are no longer being detected anywhere else in Europe.

The place of origin

radioactive sign with billboards

After the analysis, the area where it would have occurred liberation would be found in the Ural Mountains. Hence, it is not possible to determine precisely which country is "responsible". The Ural Mountains border Europe and are shared between Russia and Kazakhstan. The French organization, which quickly ruled out that it was coming from a nuclear reactor, specified that it happened the last week of September. Instead though the most plausible is that it is a failure in a radioactive medicine center, does not rule out that it could be a failure in the nuclear fuel treatment.

Ruthenium 106 is the product of the division of atoms in a nuclear reactor, so its release never occurs naturally. The collapse of a satellite with Ruthenium 106 has also been ruled out, since an investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency has concluded that no satellite containing this molecule has fallen to Earth.

The release of this element was very large, it is estimated that it was between 100 and 300 teraBecquerel. A great luck that it did not harm anyone. The IRSN indicated that such a release, if it had occurred in France, would have required the urgent evacuation of kilometers around the escape point.


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