A vast cloud of nuclear radiation that spreadover continental Europe in 2017 has been traced to an unacknowledged nuclear accident in southern Russia, according to an international team of scientists.
The experts say the cloud of radiation detected over Europe in late September 2017 could only have been caused by a nuclear fuel-reprocessing accident at the Mayak Production Association, a nuclear facility in the Chelyabinsk region of the Ural Mountains in Russia, sometime between noon on Sept. 26 and noon on Sept. 27. . .
The lead author of the new research, nuclear chemist Georg Steinhauser of Leibniz University in Hanover, Germany, said that more than 1,300 atmospheric measurements from around the world showed that between 250 and 400 terabecquerels of radioactive ruthenium-106 had been released during that time.
Ruthenium-106 is a radioactive isotope of ruthenium, meaning that it has a different number of neutrons in its nucleus than the naturally occurring element has. The isotope can be produced as a byproduct during nuclear fission of uranium-235 atoms.
Although the resulting cloud of nuclear radiation was diluted enough that it caused no harm to people beneath it, the total radioactivity was between 30 and 100 times the level of radiation released after the Fukushima accident in Japan in 2011, Steinhauser told Live Science. (Read more from “Mysterious Radiation Cloud over Europe Traced to Secret Russian Nuclear Accident” HERE)