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Ionising radiation Release of ruthenium-106 in the southern Ural Mountains

The Russian meteorological service, Roshydromet, has now published the first report on its own detection of radioactive ruthenium-106 a few weeks ago. The findings cited in the report support the calculations by the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS). The BfS assumes that a rather large quantity of ruthenium-106 (Ru-106) was released around the end of September 2017. The place of release can now also be localised more precisely: Due to the prevailing wind direction at that time, areas to the west and to the south of the Ural Mountains can be excluded as potential release areas.

Paulini in favour of fact-based discourse on radiation risks

Inge Paulini, President of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz, BfS) campaigned for a fact-based discourse about radiation risks during an international radiation protection conference on 9 November 2017 at BfS Munich. "All of us have a responsibility to discuss potential risks in an honest, open and comprehensible way without creating unnecessary concern. As reliable partners in scientific and public debates, we should support discourses based on scientific facts and not on fear", she emphasized at the opening of an event of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) on Wednesday at BfS in Neuherberg near Munich.

Ionising radiation Low concentrations of ruthenium-106 detected in Europa

Slightly elevated concentrations of radioactivity in the atmosphere have been detected at several trace monitoring stations in Europe since 29.09.2017. Low levels of ruthenium-106 (Ru-106) were detected at seven stations in Germany and several European stations, among others in Austria, Switzerland and Italy. The concentration of the radioactive substance is very low, ranging from a few microbecquerel to a few millibecquerel per cubic metre. These low levels of radioactivity do not pose a hazard to public health. Analyses as to the origin of the radioactive substance suggest a high probability of a release in the Southern Ural, although other areas in the South of Russia cannot be ruled out.

Ionising radiation Southern Urals probable source region of ruthenium-106 detected in Europe

The reason for the slight increase in readings of radioactive ruthenium-106 recently detected remains unclear. Most probably, the increase originates from the southern Urals, as suggested by calculations of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz, BfS). However, other regions in the South of Russia must still be considered. An accident at a nuclear power plant can be ruled out as a possible cause, since solely ruthenium-106 has been detected. The concentrations of radioactivity in Germany are very low and do therefore pose no hazard to public health.

© Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz