Here’s What You Need to Know About That Mysterious Radiation Cloud Over Europe via Science Alert

After weeks of silence and denials, Russia has confirmed that it too has detected evidence of a mysterious radiation cloud floating above much of Europe, observing a dramatic radiation spike above Russia’s Ural Mountains.

The acknowledgement comes after a number of other European nations suggested Russia was the probable origin of the unexplained radiation surge, which was first detected by numerous monitoring stations back in September.

Up until this point, Russian authorities had only disclosed they were not aware of any nuclear accidents on their turf, issuing a statement saying “[n]one of the enterprises of the Russian nuclear industry has recorded radiation levels that exceed the norm”.

But now Russia’s meteorological service, Roshydromet, has for the first time corroborated findings made by the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRNS).

They  acknowledged “extremely high contamination” above the Ural Mountains, detecting levels of the radioactive isotope ruthenium–106 up to almost 1,000 times the normal amount.

While the radiation spike is at its strongest in the Chelyabinsk region close to the border with Kazakhstan, the IRNS investigation – which suggested “the most plausible zone of release lies between the Volga and the Urals” inside Russia – shows the radioactive cloud actually blankets most of Europe.

The good news though is that the radiation cloud is expected to be harmless, with even these dramatically heightened levels of ruthenium–106 said to be of “no consequence for human health and for the environment”.


Nonetheless, the IRSN concluded that if the accidental release of this much ruthenium–106 had occurred on French soil, evacuations of the immediate area up to a few kilometres around the origin point would have taken place – so it’s still a significant event that should have been treated with caution.


For its part, Russia is still claiming it didn’t produce the surge, suggesting high levels of radiation above Italy, Romania, and Ukraine could mean those countries were responsible.

“The published data is not sufficient to establish the location of the pollution source,” said Roshydromet head Maxim Yakovenko.



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3 Responses to Here’s What You Need to Know About That Mysterious Radiation Cloud Over Europe via Science Alert

  1. nfield says:

    Repeated assertions of “the good news” of no health effects paired with IRNS assertions that an evacuation would have taken place in France make one wonder if French bodies and Russian bodies are fundamentally different.

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