For the first time since the Chernobyl accident, detectable concentrations of ruthenium-106 were measured across Europe in September and October 2017. The source of this radioactive cloud remains unconfirmed. In this paper we present a forensic inverse modelling study to simultaneously estimate the source location, timing and magnitude of the unexpected ruthenium-106 release using 473 measurements of atmospheric concentration. To do this, we introduce a novel method, which estimates the uncertainty in the often unknown transport error using a Markov chain Monte Carlo approach. We corroborate the conclusions of other studies which suggest the source location is in the Southern Ural region of Russia, where the Mayak nuclear complex is located. Assuming that the Mayak nuclear complex is the most plausible release location, the method estimates that 441 ± 13 TBq was released 12:00-18:00 UTC 24 September 2017, assuming a six hour release window.
- radiological releases
- inverse modelling
Western, L. M., Millington, S. C., Benfield-Dexter, A., & Witham, C. S. (2020). Source estimation of an unexpected release of Ruthenium-106 in 2017 using an inverse modelling approach. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 220-221, . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2020.106304