Norwegian authorities hunting the source of a radioactive cloud

PasvikdalenFinnmark.Pasvikdalen, .Photo: Berit Keilen / NTB scanpix

A radioactive cloud was detected over Finnmark, containing iodine-131, which was also in the air in several other European countries. However, the source is unknown.

Between the 9th and 16th of January this year, Finnmark registered radioactive iodine at the measuring station in Svanhovd in Pasvikdalen, one kilometre from the Russian border.

The reading was routinely sent to Eurdep, which is the European Commission’s center for reporting of radiation, wrote the Nationen newspaper.

It didn’t take long before similar measurements were made in Finland, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, France, and Spain, in that order. After the first reading in January, a number of monitoring stations reflected the same situation again.

‘We do not know whether we are talking about a spill that had been going on for several days, or it was a new release of radiation.

We think it must originate from a plant that manufactures radio-pharmaceuticals, since we have not measured any other radio isotopes in addition to iodine-131, which generally follow an accident at, for example, nuclear power plants, said Astrid Liland, head of the emergency department at the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA).

‘Due to the rough weather and shifting winds it is difficult to track exactly where it came from, but the data suggest somewhere in Eastern Europe’, she said.

Iodine-131 is used in radiation therapy, and is a waste product from nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. The substance does not exist in nature. Due to a half-life of only eight days, it disappears quickly, but can cause great damage before it does.


Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today