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Mystery of radioactive iodine particles in Europe

Low levels of radioactive particles in Europe: IAEA, By Sylvia Westall and Fredrik Dahl VIENNA  Nov 11, 2011   (Reuters) Very low levels of radioactive iodine-131 have been detected in Europe but the particles are not believed to pose a public health risk, the U.N. nuclear agency said Friday, saying it was seeking to find the source.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Vienna-based U.N. watchdog, said it did not believe the radioactive particles were from Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant after its emergency in March.

Experts said the origin of the radiation — which has been spreading for about two weeks — remained a mystery but could come from many possible sources ranging from medical laboratories or hospitals to nuclear submarines.

The Czech Republic’s nuclear security watchdog said it had tipped off the IAEA after detecting the radiation it thought was coming from abroad but not from a nuclear power plant. It suggested it may come from production of radiopharmaceuticals.

Germany’s Environment Ministry said slightly higher levels of radioactive iodine had been measured in the north of the country, ruling out that it came from a nuclear power plant…….

Iodine-131 is a short-lived radioisotope that has a radioactive decay half-life of about eight days, the IAEA said. Massimo Sepielli, head of the nuclear fission unit of Italy’s national alternative energy body ENEA said any number of sources could be to blame for the readings.

“It could be coming from the transporting of (nuclear) material, it could come from a hospital … it could even come from a nuclear submarine, even if it’s a more complicated possibility … but you can’t rule that out.”….http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/11/us-nuclear-iodine-iaea-idUSTRE7AA4U020111111

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November 13, 2011 - Posted by | environment, EUROPE

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