Nuclear safety watchdogs in Scandinavia said on Friday that they had found higher-than-usual amounts of radioactive isotopes in the atmosphere. A Dutch public health body later claimed that the material “came from the direction of western Russia,” and that it could indicate “damage to a fuel element.”
On Tuesday evening, however, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a statement, saying Moscow had notified it that there had been no nuclear incidents on its territory that could explain the elevated levels of radioactivity detected over the Baltic Sea.
“Apart from Estonia, Finland, and Sweden, none of the other countries which have so far provided information and data to the IAEA said they had detected elevated radioisotope levels,” said the IAEA.
Russia had already earlier dismissed the allegation, saying that its two power plant stations in the northwest were working normally, with no leaks being reported.
“We have an absolutely advanced radiation levels safety monitoring system and there are no emergency alarms [that went off],” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this week.
The latest incident was first reported last week by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), which watches for nuclear weapon tests. It said on Friday that a monitoring station in Sweden had found higher-than-usual levels of caesium-134, caesium-137, and ruthenium-103.
According to the CTBTO, they were produced by nuclear fission.
CTBTO chief Lassina Zerbo posted a border-less map on Twitter that showed where the particles might have come from in the 72 hours before they were detected. It showed an area covering the tips of Denmark and Norway as well as southern Sweden, much of Finland, the Baltic countries, and parts of western Russia, including St. Petersburg.