France finds traces of radiation from Chernobyl in mushrooms from Belarus
The mushrooms were at first thought to have come from Russia.
— -- A shipment of imported Belarusian mushrooms contaminated with radioactivity was blocked from entering France this week, French authorities said.
While there is no connection with the cloud of radioactive pollution coming from Russia that has been detected over Europe, as previously thought, radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear accident is now believed to be the cause of the contamination, according to French authorities.
“Traces of radioactive pollution have been found on mushrooms that would have come from Russia,” the head of the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) Pierre-Franck Chevet said During a Senate hearing on nuclear security on Thursday.
Earlier this month, the French Nuclear Safety Institute (IRSN) announced that several European networks involved in the monitoring of atmospheric radioactive contamination have detected ruthenium 106 emanating from Russia.
But the French Consumer Protection Agency said on Thursday the contaminated mushrooms came from Belarus, not Russia, telling ABC News: “These mushrooms imported from Belarus were tested before they made it on French retail markets. They did not represent a health threat to consumers but contained higher level of Cesium 137 than the regulatory limit and were therefore destroyed.”
Chernobyl legacy still affecting Europe
French authorities did not find any traces of ruthenium 106 pollution on these mushrooms and believe that there is no connection with the recent radioactive ruthenium pollution from Russia.
“Cesium 137 is still frequently found in the Chernobyl area,” a spokesperson for the French Consumer Protection Agency said. “And it has a 30-year half-life” he added.
The city of Chernobyl, the site of a catastrophic nuclear accident 30 years ago, is located a few miles south of the Belarus border.
European countries are still dealing with the nuclear disaster’s legacy. Wild boars with high level of Cesium 137 were discovered in forests of Czech Republic. The reason? They ate mushrooms contaminated after the Chernobyl accident, Reuters reported in February.
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