Entries in Iodine (2)


Radiation Mystery Solved? Budapest 'Probably' the Source

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Nuclear officials said Thursday they believe they have traced the source of a massive, but harmless, radiation plume that has spread across the atmosphere in Europe to an institute in Hungary, but the head of the institute disagrees.

The Hungary Atomic Energy Authority (HAEA) said the Budapest-based Institute of Isotopes was "most probably" the source of the continued leak of trace amounts of Iodine-131 into the atmosphere, according to a statement by the International Atomic Energy Institute. Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)  first announced they received reports of trace iodine-131 detections from countries "across Europe," but had no idea from where the radiation was leaking.

According to Thursday's announcement, the HAEA said the leak started on Sept. 8 and was just identified and stopped Wednesday. The IAEA repeatedly said the levels of iodine-131 released into the atmosphere were far too low to pose a public health concern.

But the head of the Institute of Isotopes, Mihaly Lakatos, told ABC News that while a filtering problem at his organization may be responsible for some of the iodine-131 detected in Hungary, it could not be the source of detections hundreds of miles away in other European nations.

"Maybe partly we have something to do with iodine-131 over Budapest, but not over Europe," Lakatos said. "The distance is too long."

The IAEA told ABC News Wednesday iodine-131, which has a decay half-life of just eight days, had been detected in at least seven countries -- from France to Slovakia and Poland. Before the HAEA's announcement, the IAEA said they were still working to narrow the list of possible sources for the radioactive leak.

In response to Lakatos' objections, the IAEA referred ABC News to the HAEA, who made the claim initially. Representatives there did not immediately responded to requests for comment.

Budapest's Institute of Isotopes produces radioisotopes "for a broad range of application areas, especially healthcare, research and industry," according to its website. Iodine-131 in particular is commonly used in low doses to help treat thyroid issues.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japan Nuclear Crisis: Highest Radiation Levels Detected in Seawater

ABC News(TOKYO) -- Radiation levels in the seawater outside the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan reached their highest levels yet Wednesday morning.

Nuclear safety officials said the seawater near the plant contains 3,335 times the normal amount of radioactive iodine.

Now, government officials are considering draping special tarps over three of the reactors to contain the radiation.  It's a plan that's never been tried before and is not without risk because officials don't want more pressure to build up.

To assist in containment efforts, the U.S. government is sending radiation-hardened robots to reach areas too dangerous for workers.

Earlier this week, officials acknowledged highly dangerous plutonium was found in soil near the reactors.

Increased levels of radiation have also been detected in tap water and vegetables.

Meanwhile, Masataka Shimizu, president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the company that operates the plant, has been hospitalized with hypertension, according to TEPCO spokesman Naoki Tsunoda.

It is the latest in a series of setbacks and criticism the company has faced after the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami knocked out the reactor's cooling system on March 11.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio