2 Nuclear Generators Missing in Arctic

By Accidents

Lethal radioactive Strontium-90 source used to power lighthouse probably washed out in the sea north of the Taimyr Peninsula.

The missing nuclear generators using a strong radioactive emitting source of Strontium-90 were installed in remote situated lighthouses all along the Arctic coastline of the Soviet Union in the 70ies. Over the last ten years, a massive program for gathering and securing the potential lethal radioactive sources has been going on. Norway, for example, financed removal of 180 so-called radioactive thermal generators (RTGs) along the coast of the Barents-, White- and Pechora Seas during the period from 2001 to 2009.

Those Taimyr Peninsula lighthouses are now powered by solar-panels with battery capacity to last year-around.

The already allocated funding by the USA for continuing wast of where Norway program stopped. The government of Canada is also discussing a similar removal support program for RTGs in lighthouses further east on Russia’s Arctic coast north of Siberia.

But, for some of the RTGs, the removal program comes too late.

The Hydrographical agency and the Federal agency for sea and river transport of Russia have searched for old RTGs in lighthouses and now announce that 2 of them are currently missing. The information is made available in a report to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by Russia’s Kurchatov Institute.

A 700 IBS (318 kilograms) nuclear generator is missing from its position on the Lishniy island in the eastern Kara Sea. The island belongs to Severnaya Zemlya archipelago north of the Taimyr Peninsula.

Aleksandr Grigoriev with the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow announced that the RTG most likely is washed out to the sea. The coastline where the lighthouse once stood was partly washed away. The amount of radioactivity in that particular RTG is believed to be among 46,000 to 50,000 Curie.

The other missing RTG was located in a lighthouse on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Far East.

There are currently fifty-six lighthouses with nuclear generators, which are still operating in western and central part of the Northern Sea Route, from the Yamal Peninsula in the west to the New Siberia Islands in the east.

Source: barentsobserver.com; Thomas Nilsen