Small amounts of nuclear radiation spread across Europe last month, and no one can figure out why.
First detected over the Norway-Russia border in January, the radioactive Iodine-131 bloom was then found over several European countries, and while unsubstantiated rumours of nuclear testing by Russia have been cropping up, officials say it’s most likely linked to an unreported pharmaceutical mishap.
While the radiation spike happened in January, officials in Finland and France have only just gone public with information on the incident, announcing that after the spike was detected in Norway, it appeared in Finland, Poland, Czechia (Czech Republic), Germany, France and Spain, until the end of January.
When asked why Norway didn’t inform the public last month, when it was the first to detect the radiation in its northernmost county, Finnmark, Astrid Liland from the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority told the Barents Observer:
“The measurements at Svanhovd in January were very, very low. So were the measurements made in neighbouring countries, like Finland. The levels raise no concern for humans or the environment. Therefore, we believe this had no news value.”
As France’s nuclear safety authority, the IRSN, announced last week, the actual amount of radioactive Iodine-131 in Europe’s ground-level atmosphere in January “raise no health concerns”, and has since returned to normal.