Radioactive cloud over Europe had civilian background

 

  • Isotope measurements on air filters: researchers investigated undeclared nuclear

 

Münster, Germany (June 12, 2020) — A mysterious cloud containing radioactive ruthenium-106, which moved across Europe in autumn 2017, is still bothering Europe’s radiation protection entities. Although the activity concentrations were innocuous, they reached up to 100 times the levels of what had been detected over Europe in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident. Since no government has assumed responsibility so far, a military background could not be ruled out.

Researchers at the Leibniz University Hannover and the University of Münster (both Germany) now found out that the cloud did not originate from military sources – but rather from civilian nuclear activities. Hence, the release of ruthenium from a reprocessing plant for nuclear fuels is the most conclusive scenario for explaining the incident in autumn 2017. The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

 

Background

It is impossible to make a clear distinction between civilian and military sources solely based on measurements of radioactive isotopes of ruthenium. For the first time, researchers from the Institute of Radioecology and Radiation Protection at Leibniz University of Hannover and the Institute of Planetology at Münster University succeeded in quantifying stable ruthenium isotopes in air filters that were released with the radioactive ruthenium.

Within the scope of the study, the team left conventional scientific paths: „We usually measure ruthenium isotopes to study the formation history of Earth“, says Prof. Thorsten Kleine from the University of Münster, adding that the methods originally developed to address research questions in planetology were instrumental in solving this mystery. The fact that the airborne ruthenium stemming from nuclear activities occurred in minuscule amounts and were diluted with natural stable ruthenium presented a significant challenge.

Through the clean chemical separation of ruthenium fractions from air filters and subsequent high-precision measurements via mass spectrometry, the researchers determined the ratio of stable ruthenium from the nuclear source. The ruthenium isotopic ratios found in the filter are consistent with the signature of a civilian source, in particular the signature of spent nuclear fuel from a nuclear power plant. A military background (such as the production of weapons-grade plutonium) can be ruled out.

Furthermore, high-precision measurements enabled the researchers to draw further conclusions. „The isotope signature discovered in the air filter exhibits no similarities with nuclear fuels of conventional Western pressurised or boiling water reactors. Instead, it is consistent with the isotope signature of a specific type of Russian pressurised water reactors – the VVER series. Worldwide, approximately 20 reactors of this type of VVER are currently operational“, specifies Professor Georg Steinhauser from Leibniz University Hannover.

 

Original publication

  • Hopp et al. (2020): Non-natural ruthenium isotope ratios of the undeclared 2017 atmospheric release consistent with civilian nuclear activities. Nature Communications; DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-16316-3

 

IMAGE: The scientists carried out the isotope measurements using such air filters. Credit: Dorian Zok/LUH

 


University of Münster, 12.06.2020 (tB).

MEDICAL NEWS

New guidance to prevent the tragedy of unrecognized esophageal intubation
Overly restrictive salt intake may worsen outcomes for common form…
COVID-19 vaccines are estimated to have prevanented 20 million deaths…
Novel sleep education learning modules developed for nurse practitioners
Scientists discover how salt in tumours could help diagnose and…

SCHMERZ PAINCARE

Aktuelle Versorgungssituation der Opioidtherapie im Fokus
Individuelle Schmerztherapie mit Opioiden: Patienten im Mittelpunkt
Versorgung verbessern: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schmerzmedizin fordert die Einführung des…
Pflegeexpertise im Fokus: Schmerzmanagement nach Operationen
Versorgung verbessern: Bundesweite Initiative der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Schmerzmedizin zu…

DIABETES

Menschen mit Diabetes während der Corona-Pandemie unterversorgt? Studie zeigt auffällige…
Suliqua® zur Therapieoptimierung bei unzureichender BOT
„Wissen was bei Diabetes zählt: Gesünder unter 7 PLUS“ gibt…
Kaltplasma bei diabetischem Fußsyndrom wirkt via Wachstumsfaktoren
Typ-1-Diabetes: InRange – auf die Zeit im Zielbereich kommt es…

ERNÄHRUNG

Gesunde Ernährung: „Nicht das Salz und nicht das Fett verteufeln“
Mangelernährung gefährdet den Behandlungserfolg — DGEM: Ernährungsscreening sollte zur klinischen…
Wie eine Diät die Darmflora beeinflusst: Krankenhauskeim spielt wichtige Rolle…
DGEM plädiert für Screening und frühzeitige Aufbautherapie: Stationäre COVID-19-Patienten oft…
Führt eine vegane Ernährungsweise zu einer geringeren Knochengesundheit?

ONKOLOGIE

Nahrungsergänzungsmittel während der Krebstherapie: Es braucht mehr Bewusstsein für mögliche…
Fusobakterien und Krebs
Fortgeschrittenes Zervixkarzinom: Pembrolizumab verlängert Leben
Krebspatienten unter Immuntherapie: Kein Hinweis auf erhöhtes Risiko für schwere…
Aktuelle Kongressdaten zum metastasierten Mammakarzinom und kolorektalen Karzinom sowie Neues…

MULTIPLE SKLEROSE

Multiple Sklerose: Analysen aus Münster erhärten Verdacht gegen das Epstein-Barr-Virus
Aktuelle Daten zu Novartis Ofatumumab und Siponimod bestätigen Vorteil des…
Multiple Sklerose durch das Epstein-Barr-Virus – kommt die MS-Impfung?
Neuer Therapieansatz für Multiple Sklerose und Alzheimer
„Ich messe meine Multiple Sklerose selbst!“ – Digitales Selbstmonitoring der…

PARKINSON

Alexa, bekomme ich Parkinson?
Meilenstein in der Parkinson-Frühdiagnose
Parkinson-Erkrankte besonders stark von Covid-19 betroffen
Gangstörungen durch Kleinhirnschädigung beim atypischen Parkinson-Syndrom
Parkinson-Agenda 2030: Die kommenden 10 Jahre sind für die therapeutische…