Fears of a secret nuclear test or an unreported nuclear accident have been stoked after radioactive particles have been detected in the air across Europe.
The levels of radioactive chemical Iodine-131 are very low, and pose no threat to humans – but scientists have yet to work out where they came from.
The Aviationist reports that an American ‘nuclear sniffer’ aircraft, WC-135 has been deployed to the UK – but it’s not known if it’s linked to the iodine particles.
Air quality stations have now detected particles in Norway, Finland, Poland, Germany, France and Spain.
The isotope has a ‘half-life’ of just eight days, meaning that it is likely to have entered the atmosphere fairly recently.
Norwegian observers suspect the particles may have originated in Eastern Europe – possibly in an accident at a nuclear plant, but more likely in an accident at a chemical plant manufacturing iodine for medical use.
Astrid Liland from the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority told the Barents Observer, ‘Measurements from several places in Europe might indicate it comes from Eastern Europe.
‘Increased levels of radioactive iodine in air were made in northern-Norway, northern-Finland and Poland in week two, and in other European countries the following two weeks.’
‘The measurements at Svanhovd in January were very, very low. So were the measurements made in neighbouring countries, like Finland. The levels raise no concern for humans or the environment.’