Europe Gets Unwelcome Gift From Russia in the Form of a Nuclear Cloud

In what can only be described as an echo of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant meltdown, a radioactive cloudwas recently discovered over Europe that is suspected of having originated in Russia, or perhaps neighboring Kazakhstan.

Reuters reported that French nuclear safety officials noticed the radioactive cloud around the end of September, and though it was significant enough to warrant attention, it was not deemed to pose any sort of hazard to the health of the European people.

The radioactive cloud — identified as ruthenium 106 by the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety — was picked up by atmospheric monitors in late September and investigated, but it had dissipated and was undetectable by mid-October.

Reuters reported that authorities had ruled out some sort of accident at a nuclear reactor — similar to the Chernobyl disaster — as they would have detected other radioactive substances aside from the ruthenium 106. They also ruled out the crash of a ruthenium-powered satellite, as none were reported as having crashed during the time period in question.

Instead, it is suspected that the cloud came from a nuclear fuel treatment site or center for radioactive medicine.

Judging by prevailing winds and weather patterns over the time period in question, authorities were able to narrow down the origin of the cloud to somewhere between the Ural Mountains and Volga River, which would place it somewhere in southern Russia or Kazakhstan, though they couldn’t be more specific.

“Russian authorities have said they are not aware of an accident on their territory,” stated Jean-Marc Peres, director of the IRSN. He added that his institute had not yet made contact with Kazakh authorities.

For the record, Ruthenium 106 is a radioactive nuclide that is a byproduct of split atoms and a substance which does not otherwise occur naturally. Due to a short half-life of less than a year, it is often used in nuclear medicine.

It is worth repeating that French nuclear authorities stressed that the radioactive cloud posed no real harm to humans, nor did they consider it necessary to implement a ban on the importation of foodstuffs — such as mushrooms — from the suspected region the cloud originated from.

“The matter is closed as far as France is concerned,” stated IRSN director of health Jean-Christophe Gariel, in an interview with The U.K. Guardian. “It’s not a problem for France, (but) what is not satisfactory is that ruthenium-106 has been detected across Europe and that poses a question.”

“We have come up with a plausible zone of where it could have come from; we can’t do any more,” Gariel continued. “Russia is a vast country and we’re not aware of all the installations on its territory. The ball is now in the other camp.”

“I have spoken to my Russian counterparts; these are people we know and they have told me in all honesty they have had no reporting of an accident,” he added.

Incredibly, the leader of a British radiation emergency response group noted that their monitors never detected any unusual levels of radiation, and monitoring stations across central Europe — including Austria, Germany, Italy and Switzerland — only detected extremely low levels, not enough to pose a hazard to humans.

It will be interesting to see if either Russia or Kazakhstan ever publicly admit what is suspected to have happened within their territory, and if the admission is accepted by the general global community.

If neither come forward to accept responsibility for the radioactive cloud, the matter could ultimately be referred to the United Nations for them to decide on how to proceed.

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Where do you think the cloud originated?