Finnish nuclear watchdog quashes radiation rumours on social media

Misinformation has led to increased sales of iodine tablets, the agency says.

Image: Mikko Ahmajärvi / Yle

The Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Stuk) warns of misinformation spreading on social media concerning an alleged radiation threat from a Russian nuclear power plant. The nuclear watchdog says categorically that the rumours are untrue.

Stuk says that nothing has happened at any Russian nuclear power plant that would pose a radiation threat in Finland.

The agency notes that the rumours have led to an uptick in sales of iodine tablets at Finnish pharmacies. It stresses that such tablets must only be taken on advice from authorities, who will inform the public in case of any danger from radiation.

Recent radiation observations negligible

The Stuk website (siirryt toiseen palveluun) offers information on the use of iodine tablets and how to act in case of an actual radiation hazard situation. It says that Finland's normal background radiation ranges between 0.05 and 0.30 microsieverts per hour.

In mid-June Stuk detected small amounts of radioactive isotopes in air samples in Helsinki and Kotka, which it said were likely from nuclear reactor fuel, but not from either of Finland's two nuclear plants. Authorities in Sweden and Estonia made similar observations.

The radioactive particles in the air have had no effect on the radiation situation, which has remained normal, Stuk said on Monday.

2 Russian reactors near Finland

Two Russian nuclear power plants are located near Finland: Sosnovyi Bor, some 80km west of St. Petersburg and one on the Kola Peninsula near Murmansk.

In 1986, fallout from the Chernobyl atomic power plant accident in Ukraine (then the Soviet Union) drifted over Finland.

The Loviisa Nuclear Power Plant in southeastern Finland was built with Soviet reactors in the 1970s, and the Fennovoima consortium has signed a contract with a Russian state firm to build a new nuclear plant near Raahe. That project has not yet been granted a construction permit.