In Depth

Russia denies radiation increase is linked to its nuclear plants

Authorities insists no leakages or faults detected following rise in radioactivity levels across northern Europe

Russia has denied claims that an increase in radiation over northern Europe is the result of a leak at one of its power stations. 

Nuclear watchdogs in Finland, Norway and Sweden last week reported “higher-than-usual” quantities of radioactive isotopes in the atmosphere across Scandinavia and in some Arctic regions, the BBC says. 

Dutch researchers who analysed data from their Nordic neighbours said that the radiation appeared to originate “from the direction of western Russia” and could indicate “damage to a fuel element”.

But Russian nuclear power operator Rosenergoatom insists there are no problems at its two power plants in the country’s northwest.

Russian news agency Tass quoted a Rosenergoatom spokesperson who said that both plants - one near St Petersburg, and the other near the port city of Murmansk - were “working in normal regime”. 

Radiation levels around the two power stations “have remained unchanged in June”, the spokesperson added. 

The denial came after Lassina Zerbo, executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), tweeted on Friday that its Stockholm monitoring station had detected three isotopes - Cs-134, Cs-137 and Ru-103 - at higher than usual levels.

“These isotopes are most likely from a civil source,” he added.

The Independent reports that “the low levels and particular isotopes detected in Scandinavia are not harmful either to humans or the environment”.

All the same, Deutsche Welle (DW) notes that painful “memories remain of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster”.

The explosion of the fourth reactor at a Soviet plant north of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv “polluted swathes of Europe and prompted control attempts by thousands of Soviet emergency personnel”, many of whom suffered fatal long-term illness as a result of radiation explosure, says the German newspaper. 

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