Airborne concentrations and chemical considerations of radioactive ruthenium from an undeclared major nuclear release in 2017

Olivier Masson, Georg Steinhauser, Dorian Zok, Olivier Saunier, H. Angelov, Damir Babic, Vera Becková, Jacqueline Bieringer, Michel Bruggeman, Christopher Ian Burbidge, S. Conil, A. Dalheimer, L.-E. De Geer, A. de Vismes Ott, K. Eleftheriadis, S. Estier, H. Fischer, G. Garavaglia, C. Gasco Leonarte, K. GorzkiewiczD. Hainz, Ian Hoffman, M. Hýza, K. Isajenko, T. Karhunen, Johan Kastlander, C. Katzlberger, R. Kierepko, G.-J. Knetsch, J. Kövendiné Kónyiz, M. Lecomte, Jerzy W. Mietelski, P. Min, B. Møller, S.P. Nielsen, Jelena Nikolic, L. Nikolovska, I. Penev, B. Petrinec, P.P. Povinec, R. Querfeld, O. Raimondi, D. Ransby, W. Ringer, O. Romanenko, R. Rusconi, Paul R.J. Saey, V. Samsonov, B. Silobritiene, E. Simion, C. Söderström, M. Sostaric, T. Steinkopff, P. Steinmann, I. Sýkora, L. Tabachnyi, Dragana Todorovic, E. Tomankiewicz, Jochen Tschiersch, R. Tsibranski, M. Tzortzis, Kurt Ungar, A. Vidic, A. Weller, H. Wershofen, P. Zagyvai, T. Zalewska, Daniel Zapata-Garcia, B Zorko

    Research outputpeer-review


    In October 2017, most European countries reported unique atmospheric detections of aerosol-bound radioruthenium (106Ru). The range of concentrations varied from some tenths of µBq·m−3 to more than 150 mBq·m−3. The widespread detection at such considerable (yet innocuous) levels suggested a considerable release. To compare activity reports of airborne 106Ru with different sampling periods, concentrations were reconstructed based on the most probable plume presence duration at each location. Based on airborne concentration spreading and chemical considerations, it is possible to assume that the release occurred in the Southern Urals region (Russian Federation). The 106Ru age was estimated to be about 2 years. It exhibited highly soluble and less soluble fractions in aqueous media, high radiopurity (lack of concomitant radionuclides), and volatility between 700 and 1,000 °C, thus suggesting a release at an advanced stage in the reprocessing of nuclear fuel. The amount and isotopic characteristics of the radioruthenium release may indicate a context with the production of a large 144Ce source for a neutrino experiment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)16750-16759
    Number of pages10
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number34
    StatePublished - 20 Aug 2019

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