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Radioactivity Hike Seen in Northern Europe; Source Unknown

HELSINKI – Nordic authorities say they detected slightly increased levels of radioactivity in northe..

HELSINKI – Nordic authorities say they detected slightly increased levels of radioactivity in northern Europe this month that Dutch officials said might be from a source in western Russia and might “indicate damage to a fuel element in a nuclear power plant.”

But the Russian news agency Tass, citing a spokesman with the state nuclear power operator Rosenergoatom. said the two nuclear power plants in northwestern Russia hadn’t reported any problems.

The Leningrad plant near St. Petersburg and the Kola plant near the northern city of Murmansk “operate normally, with radiation levels being within the norm,” Tass said.

The Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish radiation and nuclear safety watchdogs said this week that they’d spotted small amounts of radioactive isotopes harmless to humans and the environment in parts of Finland, southern Scandinavia and the Arctic.

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority said Tuesday that “it is not possible now to confirm what could be the source of the increased levels” of radioactivity or from where a cloud, or clouds, containing radioactive isotopes that has allegedly been blowing over the skies of northern Europe originated. The Swedish agency’s Finnish and Norwegian counterparts also haven’t speculated about a potential source.

‘Man-made’ isotopes

But the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands said Friday that it had analyzed the Nordic data and “these calculations show that the radionuclides [radioactive isotopes] come from the direction of western Russia.”

“The radionuclides are artificial — that is to say, they are man-made. The composition of the nuclides may indicate damage to a fuel element in a nuclear power plant,” the Dutch agency said, adding that “a specific source location cannot be identified due to the limited number of measurements.”

Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization tweeted on Friday that the organization’s radiation-monitoring sensors in Sweden had detected a slight increase of several harmless isotopes in northwestern European airspace.

The unnamed Rosatomenergo spokesman told Tass on Saturday that radiation levels at the Leningrad and Kola power stations and their surrounding areas “have remained unchanged in June, and no changes are also observed at present.”

“Both stations are working in normal regime. There have been no complaints about the equipment’s work,” Tass quoted him as saying. “No incidents related to release of radionuclide outside containment structures have been reported.”




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Europe

Reaching the bottom of the barrel: Coronavirus pandemic batters European wine production

Issued on: 06/07/2020 – 09:46

It's an ancient beverage turned cultural icon, so cherished in ..

Issued on: 06/07/2020 – 09:46

It's an ancient beverage turned cultural icon, so cherished in France that the legendary Victor Hugo once provocatively wrote: “God made only water – but man made wine”. Aside from being a staple at many family dinner tables, wine is also a massive European industry – and one thats going through its own coronavirus-induced crisis. This in a sector that was already battling against 25% tariffs imposed by Donald Trump in 2019 that have seen exports slump.

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Up to one third of French vineyards are believed to be in potential danger – in a sector that employs around 700,000 people in France alone.

FRANCE 24 has been investigating how winemakers have been coping – as some say they might end up forced to give up altogether.

Vincent Bouzereau, winemaker: "I think were going to have to pick up the pieces. We are all going to pay. I always say to my children, 'we can always tear up a vine, and put sheep out to graze, and then we can eat the sheep'.”

"We are farmers – thats where we began, as farmers."

Aubert Lefas, winemaker and secretary-general of the Bourgogne winemakers confederation warns that small family vineyards will go under as they do not have the resources to pay for wages and outgoings.

"If their land is valuable, theyll be sold to big international groRead More – Source

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Europe

Child sex abuse warning as coronavirus school closures continue

Issued on: 06/07/2020 – 09:33

Child sex abuse offenders are “taking advantage” of the coronavirus ..

Issued on:

Child sex abuse offenders are "taking advantage" of the coronavirus pandemic to make and share more abusive material online. That warning from Catherine De Bolle, head of European law enforcement agency Europol. In an interview with FRANCE 24, she explains that with millions of children at home, many are going unsupervised, using outdated and poorly secured software which leaves them at greater risk from exploitation.

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"You have to be aware, when your child goes on the internet, the child has access to the world – but also the world has access to your child. You have to be aware of this, and you have to protect your child in this situation."

Catherine De Bolle says that organised criminals have exploited the pandemic in other areas too, with a "huge impact" on cyber crime; with counterfeit and sub-standard goods, and property crime also singled out.

The Europol Executive Director also cautions for the coming months of economic crisis in Europe, saying that the end of the pandemic will not be the end of pandemic-related crime.

"We are convinced that criminal organisations will try to make profit out of the pandemic, long after the pandemic. They will make use of the economic downturn, they will make use of economic sectors in difficulty, like tourism,Read More – Source

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Europe

Brexit talks resume in London after Brussels round leaves serious divergences

Issued on: 06/07/2020 – 05:24

Britain's separation talks with the European Union resume Monda..

Issued on: 06/07/2020 – 05:24

Britain's separation talks with the European Union resume Monday with few signs of compromise on a new trade agreement and time running out to avoid a messy split.

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London will host EU negotiator Michel Barnier after a round of face-to-face talks ended a day early last week in Brussels because of deep divides in the sides' approach.

Barnier said after ending the negotiations last Thursday that "serious divergences remain".

His UK counterpart David Frost said there were "significant differences" that meant the sides were still searching for basic "principles underlying an agreement".

And German Chancellor Angela Merkel said upon taking over help of the EU's rotating presidency Wednesday that both her country and the 27-nation bloc "should prepare for the case that an agreement is not reached".

Britain followed through on the results of a 2016 EU membership referendum and officially pulled out of the bloc in January after nearly half a century.

But a standstill transition period that ends on December 31 allows the UK to effectively function as if it were still a member.

London and Brussels are supposed to agree on new trade terms in the meantime that prevent ties from reverting to the minimum standards – and accompanying high tariffs and quotas – of the World Trade Organisation.

British businesses fear that possibility and want Prime Minister Boris Johnson to give them guidance as soon as possible about whether a trade deal is feasible or not.

This would give them a chance to trigger costly contingency planning aimed at disrupting trade and business activity as little as possible.

But EU officials feel much less pressure to strike a quick agreement and are suggesting that one could still be done by late October.

Litany of disputes

Brussels has shrugged off Johnson's repeated threats to walk away and accept very distant relations with the bloc that complicated trade Read More – Source

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