On the official website of the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) – I met an article published on October 6, 2017, which talks about the detection in the atmosphere of Eastern and Southeastern Europe of Ruthenia – 106, at the level of a few minibecquerels per cubic meter of air. Ruthenium-106 is a radionuclide (radioisotope) of artificial origin, being a fission product from the nuclear industry.
According to IRSN calculations based on concentration levels measured in several European countries and weather conditions in recent days, contaminated air could be generated from the southern regions of the Ural Mountains, ie from Russia.
The day before, the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz) announced that high levels of Ruthenium-106 isotope were detected in Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and France as of September 29, 2017. The largest concentrations were found in Vienna at the level of 42 minibecquerels per cubic meter of air.
But since only the Ruthenium-106 isotope has been discovered, a nuclear accident can be ruled out as a source. According to the IRSN, German Federal Office for Radiation Protection spokesman Jan Henrik Lauer told The Associated Press that the source of Ruthenium-106 is unknown, but the calculations indicate that he was released in Eastern Europe.
Ruthenium-106 is a white metal, silver, with a glossy surface. It is used in radiotherapy to treat eye tumors and sometimes as a source of energy for satellites. So far, the reason for the presence of the radioactive compound, as well as its source, remains a mystery. What’s going on?