Unexplained Radioactive Spike in the Air Detected Over Europe

Available evidence suggests that the radioactive particles traveled from the direction of western Russia to Scandinavia.
Derya Ozdemir

A yet to be explained rise in radiation levels over northern Europe was detected by authorities of several countries. As of now, no nation has come forward to claim responsibility.  

The anomaly first made headlines last week, and while this radiation spike is considered harmless to humans, it is still big enough a spike to be picked up by monitoring stations. A sudden increase such as this one might mean an accidental release of particles that are more dangerous closer to the source -- especially if the reasons why are not found, monitored, and contained.


Last week, radiation detection stations in Finland and Sweden stated they've recorded a rise in cesium-134, cesium-137, cobalt-60, and ruthenium-103. Rare in nature, these radioactive isotopes are commonly found in nuclear reactors, according to The National Institute of Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands. 

Possible source of region

With numerous authorities looking into the anomaly, Lassina Zerbo, the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation, tweeted a map on June 26 that outlines the probable source region.

Most of the territory is inside Russia, and in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.

Lassina also tweeted, "These isotopes are most likely from a civil source. We are able to indicate the likely region of the source, but it’s outside the CTBTO’s mandate to identify the exact origin."

May not be directly linked with Russian nuclear plants

While the available evidence suggests the particles had come from the direction of western Russia, they might not be directly linked with Russian nuclear plants.

RIVM stated, "Some recent media reports claimed, possibly based on a mistranslation of our original report (in Dutch), that the radionuclides originated from western Russia. The claim RIVM makes is that the radionuclides traveled from the direction of western Russia to Scandinavia, but that no specific country of origin can be pointed out at this moment."

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Russian plants in order

Upon media speculation, a spokesperson for Rosenergoatom, part of Rosatom state nuclear energy corporation, stated "Both stations are working in normal regime. There have been no complaints about the equipment's work."

"Aggregated emissions of all specified isotopes in the above-mentioned period did not exceed the reference numbers. No incidents related to release of radionuclide outside containment structures have been reported."