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Ukraine's nuclear regulator confirms Chernobyl's post-invasion radiation spikes had an 'abnormal origin'.

First off I would like to provide some context for those readers who are not familiar with this topic.

In 2023 I presented at BlackHat USA 'Seeing Through the Invisible: Radiation Spikes Detected in Chernobyl During the Russian Invasion Show Possible Evidence of Fabrication'. Kim Zetter also wrote an investigative piece. The research materials are publicly available.

As I casually discovered a few days ago, around the date I received  the acceptance notification from BlackHat, the paper 'Preliminary assessment of the radiological consequences of the hostile military occupation of the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone' was submitted to the 'Journal of Radiological Protection'. This paper would be eventually approved and then published in September. So it seems that both investigations were being performed in parallel, but unfortunately we never crossed our paths.

There is also a significant detail: this investigation doesn't come from a random guy like me, but from official entities. The authors of this paper belong to an international mission led by the "State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine" (SNRIU) and its technical support organization, the "Scientific and Technical Centre for Nuclear and Radiation Safety", with funds from Norway's nuclear authority (DSA).

This international group of experts carried out a comprehensive radiation survey over different areas (with a risk for their lives due to the mines left behind by the Russian occupation forces), including the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, and specifically in those spots where some of the radiation monitoring devices (GammaTRACER) reported radiation spikes during the beginning of the Russian invasion. 

The outcome of the survey is that they didn't find any trace of contamination, the radiation levels were basically the same than those detected before the Russian invasion. These on-site measurements could only be interpreted as the proof that the spikes never actually happened (due to ionizing radiation), as otherwise they would be essentially defying known physics. 

I had already anticipated this scenario in my research:


The ‘return to baseline levels’ mystery.

The last, but not least, question the previous model raises is the following: Why did the stations return to their baseline levels just few days after the spikes?  

According to the ‘resuspension of soil’ theory we have that, either the resuspended materials that caused brutal increments of the H*(10) while airborne, stopped being gamma emitters after the regular deposition phase, or there was no deposition phase at all. Both cases would be equally unphysical. This scenario, in turn, leads to the following never-ending circular problem: How is it possible to achieve higher levels of H*(10) just by resuspending the same materials that were already present in the top layer of the soil?

There are two options:

1. An external release from a radioactive source. 
2. A resuspension activity with a massive transport involved. 

It is the consensus that the first option never happened. So, we are left with the second one. However, if there was a significant transport (relocation) of radioactive materials, large enough to achieve the reported H*(10) levels: Why did the stations return to their baseline levels just few days after the spikes?  And so on.

In this context, the ‘Contamination of Surfaces by Resuspended Materials’  paper provides, in a single sentence, a simple and intuitive, but still scientific, refutation to the ‘resuspension of soil’ theory. 


        Figure 80 Resuspension/deposition balance

Basically, what has been reported in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is an unprecedented case
in nuclear physics: an unbalanced resuspension scenario without a deposition phase. 


In view of these solid evidences, the paper published by Yu Balashevska et al. explicitly acknowledges that the official theory is 'barely plausible' and 'cannot explain the increase' detected by the GammaTRACERs.


This theory emerged from "SSE Ecocentre" ( the operator of the radiation monitoring network deployed at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone) and was initially accepted by Ukraine's nuclear regulator (SNRIU). As a result, it was subsequently disseminated to international media and the IAEA, where this narrative was also apparently accepted and enforced by top level personnel during the following weeks.

However, I observed a 'plot twist': at some point after the initial heat, the interest for those radiation spikes promptly decayed (no pun intended) to such a point that the official IAEA reports on Ukraine barely mention them. Obviously, this was a notable anomaly, bearing in mind that according to the reported radiation levels, those spikes represented the worst radiological event after Fukushima. I think that the conclusions drawn in SNRIU's paper are providing a partial explanation for this unexpected 'disinterest', which matches with what I concluded in my paper: "the nuclear safety experts from the IAEA silently concluded that the radiation spikes never actually happened".

So...what caused the radiation spikes?

SNRIU's paper does not provide an answer, instead it recommends the following:

However, it is not clear who should be in charge of performing that research or whether there is a mandate to do so.

Anyway, with my limited resources I comprehensively analyzed this scenario, among others, during my research. This analysis was performed from different perspectives, taking into account not only the physics that governs EM interferences but also  the specific electronics of the GammaTRACER as well as its Geiger-Müller tubes. Under my point of view this scenario should be considered as  'extremely unlikely'.

To sum up, these were my conclusions:

1. The abnormally high ambient equivalent dose rate (H*(10)) levels, detected during the 24th and 25th of February 2022 by the Automatic Radiation Monitoring System (ASKRS) of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, were plausibly fabricated.

2. From a nuclear physics perspective, these radiation spikes cannot be explained as a response of the GammaTRACER radiation monitoring devices to a traffic-induced resuspension of contaminated dust in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

3. Instead of being detected due to ionizing radiation processes, the H*(10) values, corresponding to the allegedly detected radiation spikes, were plausibly injected into the ASKRS network infrastructure at 13 different determined timestamps, following a specific set of software-generated patterns.

4. As a result of this plausible manipulation, the radiation levels (H*(10)) depicted by the real-time maps provided by and, did not correspond to the actual physical conditions in the area. During the period, these maps were consulted by millions of people, and also consumed as a single source of information by media outlets and official entities.

There are still many questions that remain unanswered. The whole issue could have been addressed by performing a forensic analysis of the GammaTRACERs in a timely manner; I elaborated the approach and requirements to perform this task.

I'm not aware of any efforts that were focused on extracting the locally stored measurements from the GammaTRACERs. According to the conclusions presented in the SNRIU's paper, I assume it never happened.  This is unfortunate because during their investigation (June-December '22) this approach was still possible but it's too late now, due to how data is stored: GammaTRACERs contain an internal storage (Static RAM) with capacity for up to 12,800 records, which are cyclically overwritten when new readings are generated.

Another logical option to resolve this 'mystery' would have been to analyze the server that received data from the GammaTRACERs, but unfortunately as I mentioned in my paper...

A chain reaction of fear.

In addition to the media coverage, the news about the events at Chernobyl during the beginning of the Russian invasion went viral in social networks, causing a widespread concern, especially in Europe where the word 'Chernobyl' immediately raises profound fears.

In nuclear physics there is a beautiful phenomenon known as "Doppler broadening". Basically, according to their quantum energy levels, nuclei present a series of resonances: if having the proper kinetic energy, an impinging particle (e.g thermal neutron) can be absorbed by the target nucleus, leading to a nuclear reaction known as 'compound nucleus', an excited state of the nucleus which then decays. Otherwise, the particle will escape the nucleus' resonances area. 

If we think of the nucleus as a vibrating element, due to thermal motion, we can see that from its perspective, the more this nucleus is vibrating, the greater the width for the resonance is, so a particle with a specific kinetic energy will have higher probabilities of being absorbed as temperature increases in the target material.

When the target nucleus is a heavy isotope of Uranium and the bombarding particle is a neutron, this effect represents one of the most fundamental inherent safety measures in nuclear fission reactors. As temperature in the nuclear fuel (whose composition is basically heavy isotopes of uranium U-235/U-238) increases, more neutrons will be absorbed, thus preventing a self-sustained chain reaction. In reactor physics this effect dominates the, always negative, fuel temperature coefficient. Precisely, this is one of the reasons why modern reactors cannot experiment a brutal power excursion similar to what caused the core meltdown in Chernobyl.

I'm far from being an expert in Psychological Operations (PSYOP) but I couldn't resist to use the simile: targets are bombarded with certain information based on elements they're familiar with, so they will be more inclined to absorb that information, thus creating an 'excited' state of thinking which will eventually decay. The more 'heat' around that information the greater your chances of success, understanding 'success' as the ability to achieve the expected reaction from the target.

Since the beginning of my research I had the feeling that I was facing a striking example of a PSYOP.  However, I'll leave the task of speculating about it as an optional exercise for the reader.