Nuclear and radiation authorities from Finland, Norway, and Sweden have detected low levels of radiation in Northern Europe. Although the source of the radioactive isotopes is yet to be confirmed, Nordic officials say that they may be coming from a nuclear power plant in Russia, one of the world's leading nations in nuclear energy.

The Soviet Union has built nuclear power plants since 1954, becoming the first nation in the world to generate electricity from such a source. By the 1980s, they had 25 power reactors in their nuclear industry.

However, in 1986 was the disastrous Chernobyl accident as a result of a poorly design reactor, killing 30 workers in the following months and causing 237 individuals to be diagnosed with acute radiation syndrome (ARS) onsite. During that time, large amounts of radioactive substances were in the air for about 10 days, with lighter radioactive isotopes carried over to Scandinavia and Europe via the wind. Some fear that the detection of three radioactive isotopes near the Baltic sea may be similar to what happened in Chernobyl.

Unknown Source

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority said, 'it is not possible now to confirm what could be the source of the increased levels.' The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands said, 'these calculations show that the radionuclides (radioactive isotopes) come from the direction of Western Russia.'

Although the readings show an increased level of radioactivity, authorities have said that they are not harmful to humans or the environment. The Dutch agency explained, 'The radionuclides are artificial, that is to say, they are man-made. The composition of the nuclides may indicate damage to a fuel element in a nuclear power plant.' Despite theories pointing to Russia, the Dutch environmentalist authorities said that the source of the radioactive particles remains unknown.

Russia's Rosenergoatom, the country's sole nuclear power plant operator, shared with a local news agency that their radiation levels have been normal for the entire month of June. A spokesperson said, 'Both stations are working in [the] normal regime. There have been no complaints about the equipment's work. No incidents related to release of radionuclide outside containment structures have been reported.'

Urmas Reinsalu, The Minister of Foreign Affairs said that ' it is in our interests and the interests of international security to determine the cause of this rise for it is surely manmade. The Environmental Board in Estonia and International Atomic Energy Agency are continuing to monitor radioactivity alongside other countries until they find out the source.

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Nuclear Energy Plans

The detected radioactive particles were Cesium (Cs-137 and Cs-134), cobalt (Co-60), and Ruthenium (Ru-103) isotopes, picked up by the Harku radiation filters from June 13 to 21 in Estonia. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) has mapped out the initial spread of these isotopes and Teet Koitjärv from the Environmental Board says that radiation monitoring continues to be active 24/7.

Russia remains one of the top nuclear power-producing nations in the world alongside China, the United States, France, and North Korea. The CEO of Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation, which owns Rosenergoatom, has shared the company's long-term goal by 2050: 'We took a punt on the Breakthrough project, on fast reactor technologies, and today we are leading in this field. It's necessary to make this leadership absolute and to deprive our competitors of their hopes of overcoming the gap in the technological race.'

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