Ro5 researchers suggest radioactive readings in 2017 were from a major nuclear release

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A very large team of researchers from across Europe has found evidence that suggests radioactive ruthenium readings across the continent in 2017 were from an unknown nuclear source. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their study of the unusual readings two years ago and what they found.

Back in the 1960s, scientists around the world began to see the need to detect radiation from human sources as a means of alerting the public to possible health hazards. After the Chernobyl accident in 1986, scientists in Europe realized that a of monitoring stations was the best way to detect and alert the public to fallout from nuclear accidents. Scientists in five countries, Finland, Sweden, the Federal Republic of Germany, Denmark and Norway, set up such a network, which they called the Ro5. Scientists from other European countries have joined the network over the years, but the name has remained. Two years ago, members of the network began reporting higher-than-normal levels of 106 (106Ru). The levels were not high enough to be considered dangerous, but the area of detection was large enough to suggest something unusual had happened—some suspected a at a facility in Russia. But Russian officials insisted the levels were due to a release from a disintegrating satellite. In this new effort, 69 researchers from across Europe together found evidence that very strongly suggests the radioactivity they observed came from a Russian nuclear power plant in a southern part of the Urals—likely Majak.

Research by the team consisted of combining and compiling 1,100 atmospheric readings and 200 readings taken on the ground. The researchers were able to conclude that the radioactivity was not from a satellite. They further report that levels of radioactivity varied widely, from tenths of µBq·m−3 to over 150 mBq·m−3. They also found that the widespread nature of the readings suggested an unprecedented release of 106Ru. By looking at the data placed over a map, they were able to trace it back to its source—in the Southern Urals in Russia. The researchers suggest the evidence indicates that there was likely an unreported nuclear plant accident.

Explore further

Russia named as likely source of Europe radioactivity spike (Update)

More information: O. Masson et al. Airborne concentrations and chemical considerations of radioactive ruthenium from an undeclared major nuclear release in 2017, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1907571116

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Citation: Ro5 researchers suggest radioactive readings in 2017 were from a major nuclear release (2019, July 29) retrieved 18 September 2019 from
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Jul 29, 2019
Really, again, Russia?

Jul 29, 2019
Really, again, Russia?

not again, but still.... this is an old story from a few years ago when they first detected these radioactive clouds.around the same time putin happened to tell us about a new hyper velocity missile, powered by nuclear fuel, that would spew radioactive exhaust. some people think its that, others think it was a nuclear plant accident like this article suggests...

Jul 29, 2019
Is 106Ru the only nucleus they're monitoring? I'd expect that other radioisotopes would be released in any sort of accident, and that their relative amounts would reveal quite a bit about the source.

Jul 29, 2019
#jp, IIRC, the spike in Ruthenium versus scant traces of 'The Usual Suspects' raised eye-brows, as this did not match models of 'typical' mishaps...
So, did the Russians really light off a 'NERVA' engine ? How long did it run ? What was the Specific Impulse Isp ? They're not saying...

Jul 29, 2019
So, did the Russians really light off a 'NERVA' engine ?
why light it in the atmosphere at all, in violation of the 64 test ban treaty? why not light it off underground? or launch it into orbit on a standard booster and test it safety in vacuum?

Jul 29, 2019
As a platinum group element, ruthenium does not easily chemically react with other elements and therefore can't pose the lasting threat that other radioactive isotopes (like cobalt or strontium) do. Strontium-90 is particularly dangerous, since it can substitute chemically for calcium in the bones.

But the indications of a radiation event that the Russians never admitted to is particularly concerning. These cowboys need to be reined in.

Jul 29, 2019
rein in the russian cowboy?
master of the world,
fuehrer putin?

none of the mice have the courage to b ell that sharp-clawed tomcat

fuehrer putin's descent into autocrat senility just makes him far more dangerous

as gauleiter trumps descent into senile buffoonery just makes him appear far more pathetic with every tweet

now this event makes it much clearer, the altright fairytails efforts to discredit science & western intelligence operations

Jul 30, 2019
around the same time putin happened to tell us about a new hyper velocity missile, powered by nuclear fuel, that would spew radioactive exhaust. some people think its that

Those "people", if they exist, has not seen the reported results, who are from a stationary source and has been likely identified (according to the article).

Never mind that oligarch/Putin Russia, post -90s, tend to not tell facts especially in its asymmetric war and/or autocratic efforts - the conspiracy theory is still a conspiracy theory, while accidents happens all the time. [The conspiracy ideologists should be consoled by that there was an observed conspiracy for a change, a cover up.]

Aug 05, 2019
"...levels of ruthenium 106 (106Ru). The levels were not high enough to be considered dangerous..."
Meanwhile, Germany with its Energiewende, is spreading tons of radioactive coal ashes across the Europe.
"Coal Ash Is More Radioactive Than Nuclear Waste"
"Public exposed to far more radiation from coal plants than nuclear stations, says report:"
"Report: Germany suffers more coal-linked deaths than rest of EU"
"Whether countries are part of the EU or not, coal pollution recognises no borders."

"Coal power, still viable thanks to Greenpeace."

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