Radiation ‘sniffer plane’ over Europe
A radiation ‘sniffer plane’ is reportedly searching for the source of a cloud of nuclear isotopes floating across Europe, news.com.au FEBRUARY 23, 2017 A CLOUD of radioactive particles is floating across Europe — and no one knows where it came from. First detected in mid-January, spikes in the level of a radioactive isotope called Iodine-131, have been recorded all the way from Norway to Spain.
Iodine-131 (I-131) is produced by nuclear fission in nuclear explosions, power reactors, and industrial and medical isotope facilities.
It has led some to ponder whether Russia has begun secretly conducting nuclear weapons tests. One of the Soviet Union’s largest atomic bomb testing grounds was on the island of Novaya Zemlya, deep in the Arctic Circle, off the coast of Norway.
While nuclear monitoring organisations believe this theory is unlikely, what has caused the radioactive plume remains a mystery.
The US military has now dispatched a nuclear ‘sniffer plane’ to the UK, that can detect and analyse radiation.Although the US military deny it, some believe its mission is to track down the source of the spikes.
The alarm was first raised in January by the IRSN, the French Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute. The public body said the cloud of I-131 had first been detected in northern Norway in the second week of January. Norway’s remote north, above the Arctic Circle, borders Russia.
The isotope was subsequently detected in Finland, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, France and finally in Spain, as the wind carried it from the north of Europe to the continent’s south west…….
The converted military jet is nicknamed the ‘sniffer’ or ‘weather bird’ by its crews who are kept to a minimum when radiation is suspected in the atmosphere to avoid danger to personnel on board the aircraft.
Two scoops on the side of the plane suck in gases which are then trapped on filters. Crew on the aircraft then analyse the particles to check for radioactivity.
A positive identification of I-131 by the plane is one of the telltale signs of a nuclear explosion. But other key indicators, such as non-natural seismic activity, have not been reported casting doubt on whether an explosion is the leak’s cause.
In addition, no other radioactive material has been picked up
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation, which polices various Governments’ commitments to not test nuclear weapons, said that while I-131 had been recorded it was within “local historical levels”.
“If a nuclear test were to take place that releases I-131 it would also be expected to release many other radioactive isotopes. No other nuclear fission isotopes have been measured at elevated levels in conjunction with I-131 in Europe so far,” the organisation said in a statement this week…….http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/a-radiation-sniffer-plane-is-reportedly-searching-for-the-source-of-a-cloud-of-nuclear-isotopes-floating-across-europe/news-story/c26dcf8452b829c64a48ab8f65eeffed
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