Chinese scientists have detected a small but gradual increase in levels of radiation close to the border with North Korea following weekend nuclear test by Pyongyang, according to a media report.
Chinese scientists have detected a small but gradual increase in levels of radiation close to the border with North Korea following weekend nuclear test by Pyongyang, according to a media report. The observation was contrary to official claims by China that no atmospheric radiation has been detected and had not impacted its environment following the nuclear test. “The changes could be due to environmental factors and unrelated to the nuclear test, but the trend was ‘worthy of attention’,” Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted a Chinese scientist who sits on a panel that advises the Chinese government on emergency responses to radioactive hazards.
The radiation level in Changbai Korean autonomous county – the closest Chinese urban area to the Punggye-ri test facility – climbed gradually from an average of 104.9 nanograys per hour immediately after the test on Sunday to 108.5 today, according to figures released by China’s environment ministry. By today, the average level in the county, which lies about 80-km west of the blast site, had risen to 110.7 with a peak of 112.5, the report said.
Nanograys per hour is the standard unit for measuring the absorption of radiation by human tissue, the report said. The Post report, however, said upward trends were reported by monitoring stations in other regions, including in Antu county at the foot of Changbai Mountain and in Yanbian Korean autonomous prefecture further north. At Punggye-ri, the estimated 100-kiloton blast triggered several large landslides, according to satellite images released today by the US-based Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, the Post report said.
Guo Qiuju, a professor of radiation protection at the school of physics at Peking University, said it was too early to be certain what had caused the rising trend at the monitoring stations as radiation levels change over time even under normal conditions. “The public need not panic as no suspicious trace elements were detected by the government yesterday. The current radiation levels were far below anything that could be regarded as a risk to people’s health,” she said.