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Science & Technology

Mystery surrounds Europe radiation spike

By T.K. Randall
February 21, 2017 · Comment icon 26 comments

What could have caused the radiation spike ? Image Credit: Christian Fischer
An unexplained spike in radiation was picked up across a number of European countries last month.
While the radiation levels were nowhere near high enough to be worrisome, the detection of radioactive Iodine-131 bloom over the continent had left authorities scratching their heads.

The radiation was first picked up along the border between Norway and Russia and was later detected over several other European countries including France and Finland.

Little was said about the phenomenon at the time and radiation levels have since returned to normal, but as things stand the origin of the radiation spike continues to remain a mystery.
"It was rough weather in the period when the measurements were made, so we can't trace the release back to a particular location," said Astrid Liland of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority. "Measurements from several places might indicate it comes from Eastern Europe."

While some conspiracy theorists have suggested that the radiation may have come from some sort of nuclear test, the most likely explanation is that it came from a pharmaceutical factory leak.

"Since only Iodine-131 was measured, and no other radioactive substances, we think it originates from a pharmaceutical company producing radioactive drugs," said Liland.

Source: Science Alert | Comments (26)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #17 Posted by Mr.United_Nations 7 years ago
There was an explosion at a french nuclear power plant in North Western franc early this month/ late Jan. Maybe connected to that?
Comment icon #18 Posted by qxcontinuum 7 years ago
the fact it started in Russia makes sense ...
Comment icon #19 Posted by DarkHunter 7 years ago
It's not the French nuclear power plant.  First the explosion occured in the turbine area and not the reactor.  From what I understand of most current operating nuclear power plant is that they use atleast two separate water supplies for plant operations.  One closed water supply is circulated through the reactor and super heated to steam, then after being super heated they transfer the heat energy to the second closed water supply turning that to steam which then goes to the turbines to produce the power.  A nuclear power plant may have another system of water to cool both closed water sy... [More]
Comment icon #20 Posted by Scorpius 7 years ago
There have been hundreds of nuclear testing over the century.  You only need to do a bit more searching to realize who has done it.  The United States has done hundreds of tests, just like some other countries.  You only need to figure out how long the exposure and exactly where the fallout will occur and spread.  The world is not that big and there are major countries around the world who has done nuclear testing. By analyzing previous nuclear disasters and tests then one will only realize how dangerous any nuclear explosion can be.  The only explosion that would prove to be 0% fatal wou... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by Sir Wearer of Hats 7 years ago
Not unless there is radioactive dragons involved.
Comment icon #22 Posted by glorybebe 7 years ago
Comment icon #23 Posted by RabidMongoose 7 years ago
It isn't a nuke or a meltdown. While those do release radioactive iodine there would be other isotopes present and detected. I suspect a spillage from shipping that runs between Russia and Europe.
Comment icon #24 Posted by aztek 7 years ago
ussr have used small nukes more than once. to stop oil spill from damaged wells under water. not unreasonable to assume rusia is doing same thing.  if we nuked gulf of mexico spill, it would be stopped a lot faster, i'm not sure what would do more damage, small nuke, or millions of barrels of oil in the water, along with chemicals they used to brake it up
Comment icon #25 Posted by DarkHunter 7 years ago
But even small nuclear weapons create isotopes other then iodine 131 which would be detected.  Since it would be at or below ground instead of an airburst it would create far more radioactive isotopes, both in amount and type of isotopes, then iodine 131.  The fact no zirconium 97, strontium 90, or the near 200 other isotopes from a nuclear blast were detected rule out a nuclear bomb entirely.  Even then there would be seismic detection of a bomb blast around the world. As for the USSR, while they attempted to use nuclear weapons for non warfare purposes, same as the United States, neither ... [More]
Comment icon #26 Posted by capeo 7 years ago
Pretty much exactly this. A nuclear test, no matter how small, would be detected by seismographs and would create a large array of radioisotopes. Iodine 131 is produced for medical purposes and also as a tracer in industrial uses such as fracking. Given where it appeared I'd actually lean towards an accidental release from an oil or natural gas operation. 

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