Measures radioactive iodine in Barents Region

Radioactive contaminated area.

Very low levels of the radioactive isotope iodine-131 in northern part of Norway, Sweden and Finland. Norwegian Radiation authorities is unsure about the source, but says it might come from, or via Russian territory.


Norwegian Radiation Protection Authorities (NRPA) says in a short press-note Tuesday evening that the levels they measured pose no health risk.

The measurements of radioactive iodine in northern part of the Barents Region were made several days ago, but results of the analyses were first made public Tuesday evening by coordinated press-notes from radiation authorities in Finland, Sweden and Norway.

NRPA says that two of the six online measuring stations in Finnmark in the high north of Norway have indicated increased levels of radioactive iodine.

Swedish radiation protection authority says in thier brief that very low levels of radioactive iodine-131 are meassured at their station in Kiruna in northern Sweden.

Neither Swedish, Finnish nor Norwegian authorities have been  informed about any releases of radioactivity anyplace in northern Europe. 

The source is most likely a reactor or a isotope-source at a hospital, according to the press-note from NRPA.

Calculations made by NRPA show that the observed radioactive substances are transported by air from southeast, that means from, or through Russian territory.

Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) presents the most detailed information. STUK’s press-brief reads that they measured small amounts of radioactive iodine (I-131) in outdoor air samples gathered 16. – 23. January from all samplers of airborne radioactive substances in Finland. The measured amounts of iodine were of the order of one millionth becquerel per cubic meter of air. These amounts are so small that they do not affect human health.

Finland’s two and Sweden’s three nuclear power plants are all located in the south.

Russia has nine operating nuclear power plants, of which eight are located in the European part. The two westernmost are Leningrad nuclear power plant outside St. Petersburg and Kola nuclear power plant north of the Arctic Circle in the Murmansk region. The portal of Rosenergoatom, Russia’s state nuclear operator, has no reports about any kind of releases of radioactive iodine-131 from any nuclear power plants in Russia.

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In addition to the nuclear power plants, Russia operates several research reactors and has a fleet of nuclear powered submarines and civilian nuclear powered icebreakers based on the Kola Peninsula.

Sweden, Norway and Finland have no nuclear reactors in operation in the north, but radioactive isotopes are in use at hospitals and the industry.

Both Swedish and Norwegian officials underline that none of their other stations in the south have meassured iodine-131.

Read more BarentsObserver articles on nuclear safety