At the end of February several Russian publications claimed that European countries were accusing Ukraine of releasing a radioactive isotope into the continent’s atmosphere.

An increase in iodine-131 was first noticed in Norway in mid-January, eventually traces were also picked up in Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain.

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The French Nuclear Safety Authority (IRSN) first reported these environmental changes in mid January.

Iodine-131 has a radioactive  half-life of eight days and in small doses is often used in cancer therapies. According to the Independent newspaper, the traces found in northern Europe could have been inadvertently released by a pharmaceutical company that produces radioactive medicines.

No European publication has reported that the leak originated in Ukraine. Only Russian media, such as RIA Novosti Ukraina, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Anna News,, Operativnaya Linia, Otkrytaya elektronnaya gazeta claimed that the source of the leak was Ukraine.

RIA Novosti claims that the leak could have occurred at any of Ukraine’s four nuclear power plants which are operating at  maximum capacity, but does not provide any evidence to support the claim. Citing the Independent and the Barents Observer as its sources, the RIA story points the finger of blame directly at Ukraine, however, neither publication ever mention Ukraine as a possible source of the leak. Ukraine does not figure in their stories at all.

The Barents Observer is published by the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, whose mission is to promote Norwegian-Russian cooperation.

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Russia’s Internet newspaper Operativnaya Linia went even further claiming that nuclear accidents had occurred at Ukraine’s Southern Nuclear Power Plant in April, May, June and November 2016. The publication cited Deutsche Welle as their source, publishing what it said was a screen shot of a story about nuclear dangers in Ukraine. Deutsche Welle told StopFake that they had never featured such a story. The Deutsche Welle screen shot has since been removed from Operativnaya Linia’s site.

Russian media regularly publish stories about what it calls extremely dangerous Ukrainian nuclear power plants, predicting that Ukraine’s atomic sector is on the point of collapse. We at StopFake debunk these fake claims equally regularly.

Ukraine’s Nuclear Regulatory Agency assured StopFake that there were no nuclear mishaps in Ukraine that could have resulted in an iodine-131 leak.