UN agency: source of radioactivity in Scandinavia still unclear

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BERLIN (AP) – The UN nuclear agency says slightly elevated levels of radioactivity detected in Northern Europe do not pose a risk to human health or the environment, but it is still unclear what caused it.

The Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish radiation and nuclear safety watchdogs said last week that they had seen small amounts of radioactive isotopes in parts of Finland, southern Scandinavia and the Arctic.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said in a statement late Monday that “levels reported to the IAEA are very low and do not pose a risk to human health and the environment.”

The Vienna-based agency contacted European countries on Saturday to request information. It said on Monday afternoon it had voluntarily reported that nothing had happened in their territory that could have caused concentrations of isotopes in the air. Some countries outside of Europe reported similar findings.

Russia was not on the list of countries that reported to the IAEA on Monday.

“I expect more Member States to provide us with relevant information and data, and we will continue to inform the public,” said Grossi.

The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said on Friday that the isotopes may come from a source in Russia and ‘could indicate damage to a nuclear fuel element in a nuclear power plant’.

However, the state’s Russian nuclear power plant said that the two nuclear power plants in northwest Russia have not reported any problems.

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority said on Tuesday that the country’s defense research institute had also measured cesium-134, cesium-137 and ruthenium-103 levels at a station in Stockholm on 22 and 23 June. The levels were comparable to those of the Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish radiation watchdogs.

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