Bellona’s working paper (minor update 11 april 2006)
Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators
UPDATED April, 2005. To read the previous version of November, 2003, click here.
An RTG in the Archangelsk region in the North-West Russia.
There are approximately 1,000 Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) in Russia, most of which are used as power sources for lighthouses and navigation beacons. All Russian RTGs have long exhausted their 10-year engineered life spans and are in dire need of dismantlement. The urgency of this task is underscored by the recent incidents with these potentially dangerous radioactivity sources.
In 1992, Bellona released a working paper on 132 lighthouses scattered along the shoreline of Northwest Russia, which were all powered by RTGs. One of them, in fact, was located just a few dozen metres from the Norwegian border.1
Bellona has warned that radioactive incidents involving these RTGs are possible, both because of the decrepit state of these old lighthouses and because the of premeditated theft of radioactive strontium 90, or strontium-90, that is contained in RTGs.
Russia’s RTGs used beyond their operational limits have been waiting to be sent to a repository for decades. Some of them have become the prey of non-ferrous metal hunters, who crave a quick buck for RTGs’ metal, regardless of the risk of radioactive contamination.
Most Russian RTGs are completely unprotected against potential thieves or intruders, and lack even minimal security measures like fences or even radioactive hazard signs. Nuclear inspectors visit these sites as seldom as once every six months, and some RTGs have not been checked for more than a decade.
The biggest danger coming from these unprotected RTGs is their availability to terrorists, who can use the radioactive materials contained in them to make so-called "dirty bombs" —bombs that are triggered by standard explosives, but disperse radioactivity. The damage from such an explosion could surpass by many times that from a conventional bomb, with the ground zero area—potentially dozens of kilometres depending on the power of the explosives dispersing the radiation—remaining radioactively contaminated for years to come.
1.What RTGs Are
A retired radioisotope generator is checked before transportation.
Office of County Governor of Finnmark
An RTG tranforms thermal energy from decay of radioactive material into electricity. They have a steady output voltage of 7 to 30 volts and the power capacity of up to 80 watts. The most frequent application for RTGs is as power sources for navigation beacons and lighthouses2. RTGs are also used as power sources in radio beacons and weather stations.
The core of an RTG is a thermal energy source based on the radionuclide strontium 90—also known as radioisotope heat source 90 (RHS-90). An RHS-90 is a sealed radiation source in which the fuel composition, usually in the form of ceramic titanate of strontium-90 (SrTiO3), is sealed hermetically and two-fold into a capsule using argon welding. Several RTGs use strontium-90 in the form of strontium borosilicate glass3. The capsule is protected against external impact by the thick shell of the RTG, which consists of stainless steel, aluminium and lead. The biological protection shield is configured in such a way that radiation levels do not exceed 2 mSv/h on the devices,’ and 0.1 mSv/h at a distance of one meter.
The strontium-90 radioactive half-life is 29.1 years. At the time of their production, RHS-90s contain from 1,100 TBq to 6,700 TBq of strontium-90, which is a strong beta-emitter. The level of gamma radiation reaches 4 to 8 Sv/h at a distance of 0.5 meters from the RHS-90, and 1 to 2 Sv/h at a distance of one meter.4Together with the energy from strontium-90 radioactive decay, its beta-emitting daughter radioisotope, Yttrium-90 (90Y is a radioactive by-product of strontium-90 decay and has a half-life of 64 hrs), also produces heat energy from its radioactive decay.
It takes no less than 900 years before RHSs reach a safe radioactivity level. According to the Russian’s independent nuclear watchdog—known until March 2004 as Gosatomnadzor, or GAN— "the existing system of RTG management does not allow for providing adequate security to these installations, so the situation they are in can be classified as 'an emergency manifested in the unattended storage of dangerous [radioactivity] sources.' This is why these generators need to be evacuated urgently."5
An RTG, dismantled to biological protection of RHS-90 by non-ferrous metal thieves at Valentin village of Primorsky Krai (see below - Incidents involving RTGs).
According to the website run by the Moscow-based All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Technical Physics and Automatisation, or VNIITFA—the developers of RTGs—radionuclide power installations with high energy capacity operate on plutonium 238, or 238Pu, as their fuel.6 However, using RHSs based on 238Pu—though this design boasts of certain technical lifespan advantages—also demands significant financial input. Thus, in the past 15 years, VNIITFA has ceased producing such RTGs for Russian consumers for on-the-ground use.
The United States government also built RTGs; some were used to power spacecraft, but at least 10 of the devices were installed at remote military listening posts in Alaska in the 1960s and '70s. After a brush fire threatened one of the devices in 1992, the Air Force began replacing them with diesel-powered generators.7 According to IAEA classification, RTGs are 1 class — meaning they are among the strongest radiation emmiters. 8
Table 1. Specifications of the RHS-90.
|Dimensions of the cylinder
||10 by 10 centimetres
|Concentration of strontium 90
||1,500 TBq, or 40,000 curies
|Temperature on the surface, centigrade
|Exposition dose rate at the distance of 0,02 to 0,5 metres
2. RTG Safety
RTGs contained inside typical assemblies.
RTG developers argue that even if an RHS-90 makes it out into the surrounding environment due to an accident or theft from its RTG, the heat source will still remain intact unless forceful means are used to remove it.
"It may have made more sense to bury [RTGs] in the ground, so that nobody could find them or stumble upon them. But they were mostly installed some 30 years ago, when nobody bothered to think of any threat of terrorism—besides, the RTGs were not made 'vandal-proof,'" said Minatom's deputy minister Alexander Agapov in September 2003. Minatom, through Agapov, also acknowledges the "existence of unattended RTGs." According to Agapov, "the reason for that is that organisations responsible for the operation of RTGs are unwilling to pay for their shutdown and removal," he said. "It's the same problem as with the new states that were formed on the territory of the USSR after its break-up: 'Take away all the bad things, we get to keep all the good things.'"9
At the same time, according to VNIITFA director Kuzelyov, "there is no problem [...] of radioactive contamination of the environment surrounding the RTGs."10
But even while saying that, Kuzelyov admitted that indeed, "most RTG locations do not meet the requirements specified in existing regulatory documents, which is well-known to the management of RTG operators.11 [...] There is, in effect, the problem of the RTGs' vulnerability to terrorists, whose aim is to purposefully use the radioactive materials contained in an RTG."12
Strontium leakage into the environment
According to specialists from the Russian Ministry of Transportation's State Hydrographic Service (SHS), "the principal radioactive risk only comes from the sources of ionising radiation based on strontium 90 [...] in RHS-90s." The SHS claims that an RHS-90 taken outside of its capsule will present a serious danger on the local level, but that radioactive contamination of the environment would be impossible. The service asserts that nothing of the kind has ever happened and that their own tests have confirmed an RHS-90 would remain intact even if blown up.13
In 2003 VNIITFA claimed that "up until now there have been no cases involving the destruction of the hermetic sealing of an RHS-90, although there have been a number of serious emergency situations involving RTGs."14
But representatives of what was then GAN and of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), while commenting on the known incidents involving RTGs, have several times that an RHS capsule could be destroyed by natural forces (see below).
But an inspection in July 2004 registered leakage into the environment of strontium-90 from a RTG of IEU-1 type, situated at Navarin Cape in the Bering district of the Chukotka Autonomous region. The Federal Service of Nuclear Oversight — as GAN was renamed in March 2004 — claims in a report, that "it accounts for destruction of the radiation protection block, heat protection block, container housing and nests [for strontium pellets]"15. (more on the Navarin Cape RTG see below, Incidents involving RTGs).
About 1,000 RTGs are located on the territory of the Russian Federation. Alexander Agapov, head of the safety and emergency situations department of the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy, or Minatom, in 2003 estimated the figure at 998 installations16. In March, 2005 Rosatom —the new body created in 2004 with functions of the former Minatom— officially claimed, that "about 720 RTGs" are still in operation, and about 200 RTGs have been decommissioned recently with the international support17.
Other Commonwealth of Independent States, or CIS, countries operate approximately 30 RTGs. In all, the USSR reportedly produced around 1,500 RTGs18. The operation period of all types of RTGs is 10 years. Today, all Russia's RTGs—without exception—have reached the end of their engineering life spans and must be disposed of 19.
3. Use, Ownership and Licensing
RTGs in Russia are owned by the Ministry of Defence, the Transportation Ministry, and the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, known by the Russian acronym of Rosgidromet. The Transportation Ministry has jurisdiction over approximately 380 RTGs, with the SHS responsible for their monitoring and accounting. The Defence Ministry owns 535 RTGs, including 415 RTGs run by the Main Directorate for Navigation and Oceanology.
Russian nuclear regulators fully control only those RTGs owned by the Transportation Ministry. Following the governmental decree 1007 issued September 4, 1999, and directive D-3 of the Defence Ministry, they grants licenses and maintain oversight of the Defence Ministry RTGs, since they are considered as nuclear installations that do not pertain to military use.But actually control in the military areas is executed by the military nuclear regulatory bodies, and nuclear regulators of the GAN (FSAN or Federal Service of Nuclear Oversight since March 2004) often don't actually have access to the military RTGs.
The SHS says it is sufficient to conduct regular inspections of the RTGs located along the shipping lanes of the Northern Sea Route—from several times down to one time a year—to maintain the installations and radioactivity levels on their surfaces and in surrounding areas.20
Nonetheless, Russian nuclear regulators criticizes SHS sluggishness in withdraw from operation RTGs wich exceeded their life-term. Still, the questions of storing RTGs, their physical and radiation safety, and the safety of people near them haven’t been solved21. Nuclear regulators points out that in this situation hydrographic services of the Transportation Ministry and Defence Ministry are in violationg of article 34 of the Law “on the Use of Nuclear Energy,” which says organisations operating RTGs must have the material and financial to operate the nuclear objects. According to GAN, “in the structural branches of SHS there is a lack of qualified specialists for timely inspections and maintenance of RTGs”.22
According to official reports by the Russian State Committee for the Protection of the Environment, "the existing system of RTG management is in contradiction with the provisions of the federal laws 'On the Use of Atomic Energy' and 'On the Radiation Safety of the Population,' because no physical security or safety has been ensured to these installations. At the time when these RTGs were placed at their locations, no consideration was made regarding the probability of damaging impact effected on them by natural and anthropogenic factors. Due to the inefficient practice of RTG accounting and control performed by the operators of these installations, certain RTGs may be 'lost' or 'abandoned.' In effect, the sites where RTGs are located can safely be regarded as temporary storage places for highly radioactive waste" 23... "Especially alarming are the potentially negative consequences of losing control over RTGs operating under the jurisdiction of the SHS and the Ministry of Defence."24
4. Types of RTGs
The Transportation Ministry some 380 RTGs of the Beta-M, Efir-MA, Gorn and Gong type along the Northern sea route. These are but four of the 10 RTG types based on heat sources like the RHS-90 developed by the All Russian Scientific Reasearch Institute of Technical Physics and Automation (VNIITFA) between 1960 and 1980 (see table below).
Table 2. Types and main characteristics of RTGs of the Soviet design25
||RHS heat capacity, watts
||RHS initial nominal activity, kilocuries
||RTG electric capacity, watts
||RTG output voltage, volts
||RTG mass, kilograms
||Year of start of mass production
||1050 (3 RHS-90)
||2 (3) x 1050
RTGs differ by parameters which vary according to their voltage output, output power capacity, mass, size and other characteristics. Beta-M type RTGs—one of the first designs, developed in the late 1960s—have been used most frequently. In 2003 around 700 RTGs of this type were in operation. However, the joints in the carcasses of Beta-M RTGs are not welded, and, as the past 10 years experience shows, such RTGs can be easily dismantled right where they stand with the help of nothing more than common fitting tools, like crowbars and hammers26. No new RTGs have been developed in the last 15 years.
5. Accounting for RTGs
Orders for new RTGs came principally from the Defence Ministry, the Transportation Ministry, the State Committee for Hydrometeorology—the Soviet predecessor of Rosgidromet—and the former Ministry of Geology, now part of the Natural Resources Ministry. All the Soviet RTGs were designed in Moscow by the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Technical Physics and Automatisation, or VNIITFA. The Institute also developed corresponding design documentation, which was then handed over to the plant that would produce the RTGs.
Mass-scale production of RTGs in the USSR was the responsibility of a plant called Baltiyets, in the city of Narva in the former Soviet republic of Estonia. In the early 1990s, the plant underwent major changes, including re-specialisation, and stopped producing RTGs. Now called Balti EES, the company confirmed to a Bellona inquiry that it has no information on the precise locations of those RTGs that it did produce. However, Balti EES' representatives said that the company's experts have since the early 1990s taken part in replacing RTGs with other energy sources at Estonian lighthouses.
Putting RTGs into operation was in the 1960s the responsibility of a now-defunct specialised organisation within the Ministry of Medium-Level Machine Engineering (Minsredmash) its which later became Minatom and, more recently Rosatom. RTGs were also put into operation by the organisations that were to operate them.
Where They are and What Condition They are in
Despite lacking documentation, it is known that 80 percent of all RTGs are concentrated along Northern Sea Route. They were delivered to hydrographic military units of the Defence Ministry, as well as civilian hydrographic bases scattered along the Northern Sea Route.
Considering the current dismal situation with RTG accounting in Russia, several years ago VNIITFA took upon itself the task of collecting information on RTGs that operate both in Russia and other former republics of the Former Soviet Union (FSU).
The institute's data point to the same fact: All RTGs located in Russia have completed their projected operation terms and urgently need to be delivered to the Russian nuclear industry’s specialized sites for dismantlement. As per the agreement with the Transportation Ministry, VNIITFA annually sends specialists to inspect RTGs at their operation sites. In 2001 and 2002, such inspections were carried out at 104 RTG locations run by the ministry.
The unsatisfactory condition of Russia's RTGs has also become a focal point for Russia’s nuclear regulators, who specifically addressed the problem of RTGs operating in Russia's Far East in a 2003 report from the former GAN27.
In 2004, GAN stated that the most ‘unfortunate’ organizations, operating RTGs with serious safety violations, are the Tiksinskaya, Providenskaya and Pevekskaya hydrographic bases of the SHS. Regulators reported that “condition of physical protection of RTGs is extremely low. Inspections of RTGs are carried out rarely and mostly not far from the bases themselves; several RTGs haven’t been inspected more than for 10 years due to lack of qualified specialists." Sometimes RTGs are simply lost: an inspection in August-September 2003 failed to find an RTG of the Beta-M type N57 at the “Kuvekvyn” lighthouse in Chukotka; inspectors officially claimed, the RTG either sank in the sand during a heavy storm, or was stolen by unknown criminals.28
In the Far East, according to various accounts, around 40 lighthouses powered by RTGs are scattered along the shoreline of the Sakhalin Island, and 30 on the Kuril Islands. The Far Eastern region of Chukotka, according to official data, has 150 RTGs. Many of them are long neglected, such as the RTGs in the Bay of Shelting and on Cape Yevreinov29. They belong to the regional Kolyma Hydrometeorological Service, but were abandoned after the monitoring service practically ceased to exist in the region. Of these RTGs, 58 are of the Beta-M type, 13 of the Efir type, eight of the Gorn structure and six of the Gong 30.
The republic of Sakha-Yakutia has on its territory approximately 75 RTGs.31
Table 3. Abandoned RTGs in the Chukotka Autonomous District32
||Radiation levels exceed those considered the accepted norm by 30 times. The RTG is abandoned and unmonitored.
||The RTG has undergone severe external damage. The generator was installed with no regard to the dangerous influence of natural forces, in close proximity to thermokarst depression. Additional damage may have been done to the RTG in March 1983, during a transportation accident that the management specialists put under wraps.
||The RTG was lost in the sands due to tides, as it was installed in immediate proximity to the inshore area. The accident was caused by the management team's incompetence. The RTG is still kept on the site in violation of the law.td>
||The RTG was installed 3 metres away from the edge of a 100-metre-deep precipice. A crack in the ground can be traced throughout the site, causing the risk that the RTG may be caught in a landslide together with big masses of rock. The installation was performed with no regard to the influence of natural elements, in this case, marine abrasion. The RTG is kept onsite in violation of the law.
||External radiation levels exceed accepted limits by 5 times. The cause of the abnormal radiation levels is a design defect. The RTG is untransportable by routine methods.
||The lower part of the RTG's carcass lacks a plug, radiation levels exceed the accepted norm by 25 times. The RTG is located on the territory of a military base. The emergency condition of the RTG is caused by the defective design of this type of generators. The abnormal radiation levels were also kept under wraps by the maintenance team.
||Radiation levels surpass the accepted limits by 35 percent at the distance of one metre from the RTG's surface.
|Shalaurova Izba Island
||Radiation levels surpass the accepted limits by 80 percent at the distance of one metre from the RTG's surface.
Table 4. RTGs in states of emergency in Yakutia, the Tiksi Hydrographic Base33
||Due to gradual decay of the shore-slope rock, two Gong type RTGs sank down to a 20-metre-depth inside a thick layer of permafrost, which has been steadily thawing.
||The dose exposure levels of the Efir type RTG exceed the accepted norm by 10 times due to malfunction of the biological protection shield.
|Of the generators operated by the Tiksi Hydrographic Base, 15 more RTGs have been established as surplus and subject to removal.
The Arctic coast
The generators located on the islands in the Laptev Sea, on the East Siberian and Arctic shores of the Anabar, Bulun, Ust-Yana and Nizhnekolymsk Regions, are all the responsibility of the Khatanga, Tiksi and Kolyma Hydrographic Bases, as well as the Pevek buoy inspection team. But this responsibility is mostly on paper. The operation of these North Sea Route RTGs meet no radiation standards. In fact, authorities have effectively lost control over 25 of these generators34.
The Siberian Territorial District owns more than 100 RTGs, the bulk of which are concentrated on the Taimyr Peninsula. In 2003 another 153 RTGs were scattered along the shorelines of the Barents and White Seas, of which 17 were located in the Kandalaksha Gulf, now a part of them has been decommissioned (see RTGs and International Efforts below).
According to VNIITFA director Nikolai Kuzelyov, "100 percent of RTGs located along the shore of the Baltic Sea undergo yearly inspections. At the same time, we have to admit that no RTG inspections have been conducted by VNIITFA specialists on the Arctic shores of the Chukotka region because no such contracts have been signed." 35
A dilapidated RTG in Chukotka: strontium-90 leaked into the environment
According to an August 16th 2003 report by GAN's branch of the Far Eastern Interregional Territorial District, the monitoring commission, while inspecting RTGs located on the Arctic shore of the Chukotka Autonomous District, found one RTG in a state of utter dilapidation, on the Cape of Navarin in the Bering region.
The level of the so-called exposition dose on the surface of the generator was as high as 15 R/h. The commission also concluded that a release of radioactive substances into the surrounding environment may have taken place.36 The commission found out, that the RTG "self-destroyed as a result of some, not specified yet, inner impact". That was stated in a letter 04-05\1603, sent by VNIITFA director Nikolay Kuzelyov and Ministry of Defence representative A.Kunakov to the Minatom.
In July 2004 a second inspection of the RTG at the Cape of Navarin was carried out. The check-up showed, that radiation situation had worsened, gamma radiation had rose to 87 R/h, but the main observation was that strontium-90 began to leak into the environment (earlier VNIITFA experts stated that leakage of strontium-90 and destruction of the RHS-90 capsule, unless strong explosives were used, were impossible).
There is an assumption that this RTG was run over with a land rover by deer farmers of a brigade that was staying at Navarin in 1999. The heat exchange was violated, and RTG warmed up inside to 800 degrees Celsius. Metal plates, securing from radiation, cracked. In 2003, the RTG was covered with a concrete slab, but still the radiation exceeds the norms. Deer farmers continue tending herds on Navarin — the southern-most cape of Chukotka. Animals, as well as people, come close to the dilapidated RTG, despite radiation warning placards.
The nuclear regulators' (FSAN) report for 2004 states, "technical condition of the RTG and dynamics of thermo-physical processes in the RTG makes its complete [self]destruction possible", while these "thermo-physical processes" are still "unknown"37.
The Ministry of Defence is still considering the possibility of removing and decommission this RTG in the summer of 2005.
6. Incidents involving RTGs
An RTG under a helicopter transportation.
NRPA/Office of the County Governor of Finnmark
On November 12th 2003, the Hydrographic Service of the Northern Fleet found a ravaged Beta-M RTG location in the Bay of Oleniya—which is part of the Kola Bay—on the northern shore, across from the entrance to the Yekaterininskaya Harbour and near the naval town of Polyarny. The team was conducting one of its scheduled examinations of navigational equipment when it found the RTG in ruins and all of its components missing, including the depleted uranium protection shield. The radioisotope heat source—a strontium capsule—was found sunk in about three meters of water near the shore.
On November 13th 2003, the same inspection team found a completely dismantled RTG of the same Beta-M type, used to provide electricity to the navigation mark No 437, located on the Island of Yuzhny Goryachinsky in the Kola Bay, across from the now non-existent settlement of Goryachiye Ruchy, also close to Polyarny. As in the previous case, the RTG was destroyed from top to bottom, and all of its components stolen, including the depleted uranium protection shield. The generator's RHS was found on the ground near the shoreline in the northern part of the island. The incident was classified as a radioactive accident38.
The Federal Security Service (FSB)—Russia’s successor to the KGB’s counterintelligence service—and the police have begun a search for the alleged thieves and the stolen RTG components that may turn up at metal scrap recycling sites.
The exact date when the two RTGs were vandalised has still not been established. It is quite likely that the last time any check occurred was no later than the spring of 2003. According to Bellona's information about the incidents, the area where the RTGs had been operating—and where the strontium capsules were found nearby lying unattended—is not a restricted access territory and is open for any passer-by. Consequently, any stranded visitor may have been exposed to lethal radiation doses for significant periods of time.
On March 12th 2003—the same day that Minister of Atomic Energy Alexander Rumyantsev was expressing concerns about security of nuclear materials during a speech at a conference in Vienna, Austria (see below)—military personnel at the Leningrad Naval Base discovered a vandalised lighthouse near Kurgolovo, a settlement on the shore of the Baltic Sea, on the Cape of Pihlisaar on the Kurgalsky Peninsula39.
The thieves, attracted by the apparently simple prospect of looting some non-ferrous metals, stole around 500 kilograms of stainless steel, aluminium and lead. As for the radioactive power element, they threw it out into the frozen sea some 200 meters away from the lighthouse. The "hot" strontium capsule melted the ice and went down to the sea floor. But even though the ice covering the spot where the RHS sank was one meter thick, the gamma radiation exposure dose rate directly above the sunken unit reached over 0,3 Sv/h40.
A similar incident had occurred in the Leningrad region in 1999. An identical lighthouse was found completely destroyed, and its radioactive power element discarded at a bus station in the city of Kingisepp, 50 kilometres away from the crime scene. Three people who the police established were the perpetrators died from radiation poisoning. Just as it was four years later, the task of liquidating that radiation accident was commissioned to Radon41.
The village of Kurgolovo, where the March 2003 accident occurred, is in the Kingisepp region, near the Estonian and Finnish borders. This area is recognised as a wetland of international importance and was in 2000 granted the status of a nature reserve by the governor of the Leningrad region. As such, it is entitled to protection of its are flora and fauna, as well as special control over a shoal area of the gulf, which is part of the reserve and a site of fish spawning for fishermen. It is also a habitat for the grey seal and the ringed seal, a site of breeding colonies and is also a migratory stopover for rare waterfowl and shore birds. At the time the reserve was established, the region's administration was also developing "ecological tourism" in the area—a system of special paths and routes for nature lovers42. However, the two radioactive incidents caused by the negligent loss of dangerous radiating power elements raise significant doubts about the prospect of flourishing tourist business in the area.
In May 2001, three radioisotope power sources were stolen from lighthouses of Russia’s Defence Ministry on an island in the White Sea, in the area of the Kandalaksha nature reserve in the Murmansk region. This reserve is one of Russia's known centres of ecological tourism. Two looters of non-ferrous metals received severe doses of radiation. The "hot" RTGs were recovered and sent to VNIITFA in June 2001. From there, they were transported to the Urals chemical combine Mayak. The bill for all these works was footed by the government of the Norwegian province of Finnmark under an agreement with the administration of the Murmansk region as part of a bilateral programme, which envisions decommissioning of RTGs at Russian lighthouses and replacing the radioactive devices with solar batteries.
In 1987, an IEU-1 type 2.5-tonne RTG was dumped in the sea while being lifted and towed by helicopter of the Far Eastern Administration of Civil Aviation to Cape Nizky in the Okha region on the eastern coast of Sakhalin. The order for the transportation was put by the Defence Ministry's military unit No. 13148. The pilots explained that the unusually windy weather was rocking the helicopter so violently that they had no other option but to dispatch the load and dump it into the sea to avoid a crash landing.
In August 1997, another IEU-1 type RTG fell from a helicopter into the sea in the Cape of Maria area of the northern part of Sakhalin in the Smirnykh region. The generator sank 200 to 400 meters off the coast in 25 to 30 meters of water. According to military officials, the cause of the accident was the disengagement of the lock of the sling load system due to human error.
A search operation, which found one of the RTGs (which fell into the Sea of Okhotsk in 1997), was undertaken only in 2004 — it was planned that the RTG would be lifted no earlier than summer 200543. No expedition to find the other RTG was carried out.
Both RTGs are still lying on the sea bottom. So far, samples of the sea water in these areas have not shown increased levels of strontium-90, but it should be noted that the marine environment is a chemically active medium, and the factor of several atmosphere of water pressure adds to the risk of the RTGs' destruction. According to Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA), the worst scenario may lead to a leakage of 500 MBq of strontium-90 daily; nonetheless, NRPA doesn't consider the risk of strontium-90 moving further up the food chain from the bottom-dwelling microorganisms to algae to fish and finally to human beings to be serious for humans44.
The probability of a strontium-90 leak is confirmed both by GAN officials45 and experts from the IAEA46. The expected probability rose after a July 2004 strontium leak into the environment was registered at the dilapidated RTG at the Cape of Navarin in Chukotka (see above).
VNIITFA experts also participated in the elimination of an emergency caused by unauthorised dismantling of six Beta-M type RTGs in Kazakhstan, in that country's Priozersk region 47.
A strontium-90 core from an RTG recovered by International Atomic Energy Agency in the Republic of Georgia. An incident in West Georgia in February 2002 is mentioned in the table below.
Further field, in 1998, a two-year-old girl, residing in of the village of Vankarem in Chukotka, died of leukaemia, while another two children were hospitalised on suspicion of the same diagnosis. According to the Sakhalin-based newspaper Svobodny Sakhalin, the illnesses were caused by radiation exposure from an "orphaned" RTG, discarded not far from the village. However, the diagnosis and the cause of the illness were never officially confirmed48.
The health situation of Vladimir Svyatets—the lighthouse keeper of the navigation maintenance station Plastun on the Cape of Yakubovsky in the Primorsky region—has likewise not yet been officially confirmed. In March 2000, a damaged RTG from another navigation station—in the Olgino district of the Pacific Fleet's hydrographical service—was left by Svyatets' house, near the lighthouse.
The radiation emitted by the damaged RTG was far beyond the accepted norms. As a result of severe radiation doses, Svyatets allegedly suffers from chronic radiation sickness—a diagnosis he received from civilian doctors. However, the doctors' statements are being disputed by Russia's Pacific naval command and by military doctors of the Pacific Fleet.49
Serious incidents involving the RTGs are shown in the table below.
Table 5. Accidents involving RTGs in the USSR, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States
||Pulkovo Airport, Leningrad
||A spent RTG was transported without a radiation-safe
||Cape Nutevgi, Chukotka Autonomous District
||An RTG suffered severe damage in a traffic
accident while en route to its installation site. The accident was kept
under wraps by the management team, but the damage was in 1997 uncovered
by an inspection commission, which included experts from GAN.
||Cape Nizky, Sakhalin region
||An IEU-1 type 2.5-tonne RTG was dropped in the Sea of Okhotsk during transportation by helicopter. The RTG, which belongs to the Defence Ministry, has still not been recovered from the sea floor.
||An increase in background gamma radiation
levels was registered on the premises of Tajikgidromet, the Tajik analogue
of Rosgidromet, in the centre of the capital. Three RTGs that had been used
well beyond their safe operational periods were stored at a coal storage
yard. Due to Tajikistan's problematic relationship with Russia, the RTGs
were never sent to VNIITFA and fell victim to unknown scavengers. 51
||Cape of Maria, Sakhalin region
||Another IEU-1 RTG was dropped in the Sea
of Okhotsk during helicopter transportation. As in the first accident, the
RTG, which belongs to the Defence Ministry, has never been recovered from
the sea floor, where it lies at a mere depth of 25 to 30 meters of water.
A search operation, which found this RTG was undertaken only in 2004 — it
was planned that the RTG would be lifted no earlier than summer 2005.
|Port of Korsakov, Sakhalin region
||A dismantled RTG was found at a metal scrap recycling site. The stolen generator belonged to the Defence Ministry.
||An RTG was found ravaged by non-ferrous metal looters. The RHS core was found emitting 1000 R/h of radiation at a bus stop in the town of Kingisepp. It was recovered by a Radon radioactive materials disposal team.
||Cape Malaya Baranikha, Chukotka Autonomous District
||Access to this RTG, which is located close to a settlement, is unrestricted. In 2000, radiation background levels were found to exceed the accepted norm by several times. The RTG still has not been evacuated due to financial difficulties.
||Kandalaksha Bay, Murmansk region
||Three radioisotope sources were stolen from lighthouses located in the area. All the three RHSs were found and sent to Moscow by VNIITFA specialists.
||Three shepherds from the village of Lia in the Tsalendzhikha region were exposed to high radiation doses after they stumbed upon a number of RTGs in a nearby forest. Shortly after the accident an IAEA commission established that, during the Soviet time, eight nuclear-powered generators altogether were delivered to Georgia from the RTG producer Baltiyets.
||Cape Pihlissar, near Kurgolovo, Leningrad region
||An RTG was ravaged by non-ferrous metal scavengers. The RHS, emitting 1000 R/h, was found in 200 metres from the lighthouse, sunk in the shoals of the Baltic Sea. It was removed by an expert team from Radon.
|Golets Island in the White Sea
|Northern Fleet service personnel discovered a theft of metal from biological protection at a nuclear powered lighthouse on the small island of Golets. The door inside the lighthouse had been forced. The lighthouse contained a particularly powerful RTG with six RHS-90s, which weren’t taken.52
||Kola Bay: Oleniya Bay and Yuzhny Goryachinsky
||Two RTGs, which are the property of the
Northern Fleet, were ravaged by non-ferrous metal thieves. The RHS-90s were
found nearby, on sunken in shallow water, the other on shore.
||Valentin village, Lazovsky region of Primorsky
||An RTG, owned by the Pacific Fleet, was found dismantled by non-ferrous metal thieves. RHS-90 inside the biological protection was found nearby.53
|Norilsk, Krasnoyarsk Region
||Three RTGs found at the territory of military unit 40919. According to the unit commander, these RTGs were left by another military unit, previously based at this site. The Krasnoyarsk branch of GAN reported radiation doses at a distance of one meter from the RTG exceeds natural background by 155 times. Rather than solving the problem within the Ministry of Defence, the military unit, in which RTGs were found, sent a letter to ‘Kvant’ radiation technics company in Krasnoyarsk, asking them to remove RTGs for disposal.54
|Cape of Navarin,
|A second inspection of the RTG at the Cape of Navarin showed, that strontium-90 began to leak from the RHS-90 as a result of an"unknown thermo-physical processes". This fact refutes a VNIITFA claim, that destruction of the RHS-90 capsule and leakage of strontium into the environment is impossible. There is an assumption, that this RTG was run over with a landrover by deer farmers of a brigade, which was staying at Navarin in 1999. Dynamics of thermo-physical processes in the RTG makes possible its complete self-destruction. Gamma-radiation level are about 87 R/h.
||Island Zemlya Bunge,
|Two RTGs—Nos. 4 and 5 of the “Efir-MA” model produced in 1982—were being transported from the “New Siberia” island lighthouse off the Northeastern arctic coast of Siberia. The RTGs were suspended from a helicopter by cables for transport to the Russian polar station at Bunge. When the helicopter ran into heavy weather the crew was forced to jettison the two RTGs from a height of 50 meters on the tundra at on Zemlya Bunge island, 112 kilometres from another Russian polar station, Sannikova. According to the nuclear regulators, the impact compromised the RTGs’ external radiation shielding. At a height of 10 meters above the impact site, the intensity of gamma radiation was measured at 4 milliSieverts per hour. The cause of the incident is a breach by the owner of RTGs (the State Hydrographic Service of the Ministry of transportation) of the rules of transportation (RTGs were transported without special outer transportation casks, required by IAEA). 55The RTGs could be lifted from tundra no earlier than summer 2005.
Apart from the incidents, mentioned in the table, it should be mentioned that in August 1998 the State Hydrographic Service revealed a theft of accumulators from two RTGs of the Beta-M type at the cape Otmely of the Hatanga bay of the Taimyr peninsula.
In August 2002 an inspection of the State Hydrographic Service detected disappearance of two RTGs at the Kondratyeva cape of the Strait of Dmitry Laptev. According to a yet not proved hypothesis of a scientific group Rudgeophysics, these RTGs went down to the depth from three to five meters in the ground. [Aturin M and others, Organizatsiya obrascheniya s istochnikami... // proceedings of the VIII international conference Safety of Nuclear technologies, St Petersburg, 2005].
7. The threat of terrorism
Abel Gonzalez, IAEA Director of Radiation and Waste Safety, speaks about the security of radioactive sources at the conference in 2003.
The US Defence Department-run Cooperative Threat Reduction, or CTR, programme, which was launched in 1991 considers Russian RTGs a threat of proliferation of radioactive materials that could be used in a dirty bomb by potential terrorists. CTR is also known as the Nunn-Lugar programme after its creators, Indiana Senator Richard Lugar and former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn.
Senator Lugar's website states that "the Russian government does not have an accurate accounting as to where all the generators are located." Accordingly, says the website of Senator Lugar, who is also Chairman of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee "we must find these units, secure them and remove the dangerous materials."56
On March 12th 2003, at an IAEA conference entitled "Security of Radioactive Sources" in Vienna, Minatom head Rumyantsev admitted to the problem.
According to Rumyantsev—whose speech was quoted on the IAEA website—among aggravating circumstances are "the [increasing] threat posed by [various] terrorist organisations in the world, the disintegration of former Soviet territory that led to the loss of control over [these radioactive] sources, and in some cases to the loss of [radioactive] sources as such."
As an example, Rumyantsev cited incidents of "unsanctioned opening of RTGs by [residents] of Kazakhstan and Georgia [in order] to obtain non-ferrous metals. For some, the dose that they have been exposed to turned out to be too high." Rumyantsev also concluded that after the break-up of the USSR, the integral system of government control that used to oversee the installation and transportation of radioactive and nuclear materials had to be recreated anew in separate independent states, which caused an unprecedented wave of previously rare criminal offences, including those involving radioactive sources, reports the IAEA website. 57
According to the closing statement at the Vienna meeting made by the IAEA, "high-risk radioactive sources that are not under secure and regulated control, including so-called 'orphan' sources, raise serious security and safety concerns. Effective national infrastructures for the safe and secure management of vulnerable and dangerous radioactive sources are essential for ensuring the long-term security and control of such sources."58
The threat of terrorism was also discussed at the IAEA Contact Expert Group workshop in Oslo in February, 2005 and in Moscow, at a conference held by the Russian Academy of Sciences in March 2005.
8. RTGs and International Efforts
The Norwegian Office of the Finnmark County Governor runs a project to decommission RTGs owned by the Russian Northern Fleet, and to replace many of them with solar panels. These RTGs have long surpassed their engineered life span and are thus considered a radioactive hazards.
At first, five RTGs were replaced with Norwegian solar panels under two agreements between Finnmark and the Murmansk Region, signed in 1996 and 1998. The decommissioning stipulates the following stages: RTGs are transported to Murmansk to RTP Atomflot for an interim storage, then to the Izotop enterprise in Moscow, dealing with railway transportations of radioactive loads, and then to VNIITFA, where they are dismantled in a special chamber, after that RHS-90 elements are sent in special casks to Mayak in Chelyabinsk region.
The first solar panel was installed in July 1997 at Bolshoi Ainov Island nature reserve at a cost of $35,400 59.
Under the 1998 agreement, another two RTGs were replaced with solar panels in 1999 and 2000. The last, in 2002, was installed at the Laush Lighthouse on the Rybachy Peninsula. The radioactive sources from the RTGs are sent to Mayak for storage.
In August, 2002, US Congressional representatives and Bellona gathered and discussed the prospects of solar powered lighthouses in Norway near the Russian border. Prior to this gathering, Bellona had raised concern about nuclear powered lighthouses in Russia 60.
In further cooperation between Finnmark and Murmank, the two regions agreed to decommission 15 more RTGs—12 that are in normal working order and the three that were vandalized for scrap early in 2004. In June 2002, a $200,000 agreement was signed between the regions to decommission yet another 10 RTGs.
On April 8th 2003, the governors of Finnmark and the Murmansk region signed two new contracts, one more for RTG decommissioning, and the second for testing Russian-made solar panels. The agreement covering the decommissioning includes another 20 RTGs and will cost $600,000. The agreement for testing Russian-made solar panels will cost $36,000. The panels will be produced in Krasnodar at the Saturn plant, owned by the Russian Federal Space Agency61. The Russian panels will be tested on a lighthouse in Murmansk and one in Finnmark.
By September 2004, 45 RTGs had been decommissioned in the Murmansk region in this joint effort, with a plan to bring that to a total of of 60 by the end of 2004—34 of them refitted with solar batteries. 62Some $3.5 million have been allocated to the project by the Norwegian Government and the Country of Finnmark thus far, but how much the programme will cost in the future is difficult to estimate as it is highly dependent on other potential donor nations. 63
In August 2004, the NRPA completed its independent report on Russian RTGs decommissioning, examining different ways of securing them.64
At a Russian-Norwegian meeting in February 2005, the sides agreed to complete decommissioning of the 110 RTGs (containing about 150 RHS-90's, as one RTG may contain more than one RHS-90) remaining in Murmansk and Archangelsk regions by 2009.
After September 11, 2001, U.S. officials recognized Russian RTGs as proliferation threat of radioactive materials that could be used in a dirty bomb by potential terrorists.
In September 2003, Minatom signed a technical agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for dismantling and decommissioning of several RTGs65 under the aegis of the DOE’s Radiological Dispersal Device Programme. According to the agreement, up to 100 RHS-90 from the RTGs per year will be vitrified at the Mayak Chemical Combine. Furthermore, all the transportation plans have been laid, and financial resources promised.
Meanwhile, in 2000-2003, VNIITFA decommissioned only about 100 retired RTGs of various types 66 so the DOE agreement will boost that figure. In 2004, in Russia 69 RTGs of the Ministry of Transportation were taken from different sites to interim storage, and in 2005 it is planned to decommission about 50 RTGs of the Ministry of Transportation. Rosatom planes to decommission all RTGs (from the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Defence as well) by 2012.
The DOE's budget for radiological dispersal devices, which are most readily prepared from material housed in RTGs, was $36 million for FY 2004 and the request for the FY 2005 is $25 million67. Decommissioning of RTGs owned by Ministry of Transportation started in August 2004, in the framework of the DOE program. Still, even after the programme began, Yevgeny Kluev, deputy general director of State Hydrographic Service stated in an interview with Bellona Web in September 2004, that “there is still no policy of RTGs decommissioning: decommissioned are only the RTGs in the worst condition.” Additional information on the programme was not forthcoming from the DOE.
In negotiations with American and German colleagues, Minatom mentiones a variant, according to which the contents of RTGs would be stored in regional “Radon” dump-sites. For example, a plan is under discussion to build a long-term storage for RTGs in the Siberian region in a territory of one or several “Radon” facilities to forgo long transportation of RTGs to Moscow and then further south to Mayak.68 But Radon combines are designed only for handling low- and medium-level radioactive waste, while RTGs pertain to high-level waste.
In March 2005 Rosatom claimed, the DOE promised to consider a question of assisting Russia with building a RTG dismantling facility at DalRAO near the nuclear submarine base in Vilyuchinsk, Kamchatka (in order not to send RTGs to Moscow and back — Rosatom is still planned to bury RHS-90's as vitrified radioactive waste at Mayak). Meanwhile, building of an interim storage facility for RTGs taken from different sites in Russia's Far East has been already started at DalRAO with DOE funds. 69
The average cost for decommissioning an RTG hovers between $30,000 and $40,000, according to available figures. However, some RTGs in far flung regions like Chukotka in the far Northeast of Russia can cost as much as $120,000 to decommission70.
1. Bellona Working Paper N5:92, Thomas Nilsen,. "Nuclear Powered Lighthouses," Oslo, 1992.
2. Information granted to the author in reply to an official inquiry to VNIITFA in June 2003.
3. Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority. Strålevern Rapport 2005:4. Assessment of environmental, health and safety consequences of decommissioning radioisotope thermal generators (RTGs) in Northwest Russia. Østerås, Norway 2005 http://www.nrpa.no/dokumentarkiv/StralevernRapport4_05.pdf
4. M.I.Rylov, M.N.Tikhonov. Problemy radiatsionnoi bezopasnosti...//Atomnaya strategiya, St Petersburg, N1(6) June 2003, p. 32. (In Russian).
5. Report on the activities of GAN in the field of nuclear and radiation safety in 1998. Moscow, 1999, p. 72. (In Russian) See also M.I.Rylov, M.N.Tikhonov. Problemy radiatsionnoi bezopasnosti...//Atomnaya strategiya, St Petersburg, N1(6) June 2003. P. 32. (In Russian).
6. http://www.vniitfa.ru/_Products/RadioNuclIst/RadioNuclIst.htm(In Russian).
7. Joby Warrick. Makings of a 'Dirty Bomb'. Radioactive Devices Left by Soviets Could Attract Terrorists.// Washington Post. March 18, 2002; Page A01 http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId;=A42294-2002Mar17¬Found;=true
8. Norwegian Defence Research Establishment. Halvor Kippe, Steinar Høibråten. Security Concerns Regarding RTGs. Oslo, 2005
9. Agapov's statements are quoted as a reply to the author's question about RTG decommissioning at a Minatom conference in St Petersburg, September 1, 2003.
10. N.R.Kuzelyov. A review of "Problemy radiatsionnoi bezopasnosti..."//Atomnaya strategiya, St Petersburg, N1(6) June 2003, p. 33 (In Russian).
13. Y.V. Klyuyev [head of the SHS of the Transportation Ministry in 2000]. Prodolzhayem razgovor...// Yakutia, Yakutsk, No. 59, April 1st 2000 (In Russian).
14. Information granted to the author in reply to an official inquiry to VNIITFA.
15. Federal Service of Nuclear Oversight of Russian Federation. The annual report on radiation safety (2004) http://www.gan.ru/org_struktura/upravleniya/4upr/spravka_2004.htm (In Russian). See also: Mikhail Gorbunov. "Chernuyu smert'" uvidyat v litso.//Russkiy kur'er. 27 october 2004.http://eco-pravda.km.ru/nute/rk27o4.htm (In Russian).
16. Agapov's statements are a reply to the author's question about RTG decommissioning at a Minatom conference in St Petersburg, September 1st 2003.
17. Sergei Antipov: "V rabote s RITEGami glavnaya zapoved'...":href=http://www.minatom.ru/News/Main/view?id=15774&idChannel;=72 04 March 2005
18. M.I.Rylov, M.N.Tikhonov,. Problemy radiatsionnoi bezopasnosti...//Atomnaya strategiya, St Petersburg, N1(6) June 2003, p. 32. (In Russian).
19. Information confirmed in reply to the author's official inquiry to VNIITFA.
20. Y.V. Klyuyev [head of the SHS of the Transportation Ministry], Prodolzhayem razgovor...// Yakutia, Yakutsk, No. 59, April 1st 2000 (In Russian).
21. Report of the Northern-European interregional territorial district on nuclear and radiation safety for the 1st half of 2004 http://www.gan.ru/mto/semto/nedd_otchet-1.2004.htm
22. Report of the Far-Eastern interregional territorial district on nuclear and radiation safety for the 1st half of 2004 http://www.gan.ru/mto/dvmto/otchet_1_2004.htm
23. The Russian Ministy of Natural Resources. The State Report of 1999. href=http://www.ecocom.ru/Gosdoklad99/Part1-7.htm (In Russian).
24. The Russian Ministy of Natural Resources. The State Report of 1998. http://www.wdcb.ru/mining/obzor/Doc_1998/Part1-7.htm(In Russian).
25. Information partly taken from: A.M.Agapov, G.A. Novikov, Radiologichesky terrorism... http://www.informatom.ru/rus/safe/vena/Vena.asp (In Russian), and M.I.Rylov, M.N.Tikhonov. Problemy radiatsionnoi bezopasnosti...//Atomnaya strategiya, St. Petersburg, N1(6) June 200,. p. 32. (In Russian).
26. Information granted to the author in reply to an official inquiry to VNIITFA.
27. A report on the activities of GAN’s branch of the Far Eastern Interregional Territorial District in the field of nuclear and radiation safety regulation at the sites of application of atomic energy, first half of 2003 http://www.gan.ru/mto/dvmto/otchet_1_2003.htm (In Russian).
28. Report of the Far-Eastern interregional territorial district on nuclear and radiation safety for the 1st half of 2004 http://www.gan.ru/mto/dvmto/otchet_1_2004.htm; See also: A report on the activities of GAN’s branch of the Far Eastern Interregional Territorial District in the field of nuclear and radiation safety regulation at the sites of application of atomic energy, second half of 2003 http://www.gan.ru/mto/dvmto/otchet_2_2003.htm.
29. The Russian Ministy of Natural Resources. The State Report of 1997. http://web.archive.org/web/20020223084209/http://www.ecocom.ru/arhiv/ecocom/Gosdoklad/Section29.htm(In Russian).
30. M.I.Rylov, M.N.Tikhonov. Problemy radiatsionnoi bezopasnosti...//Atomnaya strategiya, St. Petersburg, N1(6) June 2003, p. 32 (In Russian).
31. Government of Sakha Republic (Yakutia), the Ministry for the Protection of the Environment. The State Report "On the state of the environment and activities in the field of nature preservation in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in 2001," Yakutsk, 2002, www.sterh.sakha.ru/gosdoklas2001/zakl.htm(In Russian).
32. Information of the environmental NGO Kaira-Club, Chukotka region, http://web.archive.org/web/20040210090957/http://www.kaira.seu.ru/kv/kv0902p2.htm (In Russian), see also: M.I.Rylov, M.N.Tikhonov. Problemy radiatsionnoi bezopasnosti...//Atomnaya strategiya, St. Petersburg, N1(6) June 2003, p. 32 (In Russian). Report on the activities of GAN… 1997. Moscow, 1998, p. 72 (In Russian).
33. Information on the violations of licencing terms and the violations of laws, federal norms and regulations in the use of atomic energy, information on the actions taken against the violators, third quarter of 2002 http://web.archive.org/web/20021024163030/http://www.gan.ru/dvmto/nlic-3.2002.htm(In Russian).
34. Government of Sakha Republic (Yakutia), the Ministry for the Protection of the Environment. The State Report "On the state of the environment and activities in the field of nature preservation in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in 2001," Yakutsk, 2002, http://www.sterh.sakha.ru/gosdoklas2001/zakl.htm(In Russian).
35. N.R.Kuzelyov. A review of “Problemy radiatsionnoi bezopasnosti...”//Atomnaya strategiya, St. Petersburg, N1(6) June 2003, p. 33 (In Russian).
36. Mikhail Gorbunov. "Chernuyu smert'" uvidyat v litso.//Russkiy kur'er. 27 october 2004. http://eco-pravda.km.ru/nute/rk27o4.htm (In Russian)
37. Federal Service of Nuclear Oversight of Russian Federation. The annual report on radiation safety (2004)http://www.gan.ru/org_struktura/upravleniya/4upr/spravka_2004.htm (In Russian). See also: Official web-site of the Chukotka Autonomous Region. 100 mln rublei vydeleno... 22 september 2004 http://www.chukotka.org/news/?id=iA19AB59B (In Russian)
38. The Murmansk Regional Administration, Press release of 17.11.2003 No. 386 (In Russian). See also: Igor Kudrik, Rashid Alimov, Charles Digges. Two strontium powered lighthouses vandalised on the Kola Peninsula. http://www.bellona.no/en/international/russia/navy/northern_fleet/incidents/31767.html
39. Cape of Pihlisaar: 59°47'N 28°10'E.
40. GAN Statement http://www.gan.ru/4upr_spravka_2_2003.htm (In Russian).
41. The author's interview with head of Radon Alexander Ignatov, April 2003; press release of the NGO Zelyony Mir, “Radioaktivnaya bomba dlya Baltiki” http://www.greenworld.org.ru/rus/proj/danger/radon/rad01.htm#A (In Russian). Boris Karpov. Po tolstomu l'du. //Nevskoe Vremya, St. Petersburg, March 22, 2003, nevskoevremya.spb.ru/cgi-bin/pl/nv.pl?art=142016251 (In Russian).
42. Decree issued by the governor of the Leningrad region No. 309-pg of June 20th 2000, http://web.archive.org/web/20040226025255/http://www.lenobl.ru/main2.php3?section=government4_32 (In Russian).
43. Radioisotopnaya ustanovka budet podnyata so dna... // Deita.Ru information agency, http://www.deita.ru/index.php?news_view,28476 31 october 2004.
44. Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority. Strålevern Rapport 2005:4. Assessment of environmental, health and safety consequences of decommissioning radioisotope thermal generators (RTGs) in Northwest Russia. Østerås, Norway 2005. Page 22. http://www.nrpa.no/dokumentarkiv/StralevernRapport4_05.pdf
45. GAN Statement http://www.gan.ru/dvmto/stat2.htm (In Russian).
46. Inventory of accidents and losses at sea involving radioactive material. IAEA-TECDOC-1242, IAEA, Vienna. 2001.
47. Information granted to the author in reply to an official inquiry to VNIITFA.
48. Marina Plechikova. Sakhalin i Kurily mogut...//Svobodny Sakhalin, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, No. 51(781), December 19th 2002 (In Russian).
49. See, for example, Anna Seleznyova. Radiatsionnaya lovushka...// Ekologiya i Pravo, No. 7, June 2003, P. 18 ( http://www.ecopravo.info); also see: Yevgeni Izyurov. Khronika luchevoi bolezni. //Vladivostok, N1330, 26th March 2003 ( http://www.vladnews.ru/magazin.php?id=11&idnews;=9509¤t;_magazin=1330). (In Russian).
50. V.V.Dovgusha, M.N.Tikhonov, Radiatsionnaya obstanovka na Severo-Zapade Rossii. St Petersburg, 2000 (In Russian).
51. Radiatsiya v tsentre Dushanbe. //"Azia Plus", Dushanbe, April 2002 http://ecoasia.ecolink.ru/data/2002.HTM/000147.HTM (In Russian).
52. Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority. Stralevern info. 2004:07. ISSN 0806-895X • 25 March 2004. Also comments from NRPA’s Ingar Amundsen to Bellona Web.
53. Yevgenia Yurchenko. Polchasa – i trup // Zolotoy rog, Vladivostok, N21, March,18 2004, http://www.zrpress.ru/2004/021/p031.htm
54. Siberian branch of Federal Nuclear Regulatory Service. Svedeniya o faktah… v iyule 2004 goda. http://www.gan.ru/mto/smto/smto/narush-7.2004.htm
55. Svedeniya o narusheniyakh usloviy litsenziy... v IV kvartale 2004 goda. http://www.gan.ru/mto/semto/nedd/nlic-4.2004.htm; see also. Spravka o rabote Severo-Evropeiskogo mezhregional'nogo territorialnogo okruga... za 2004 god. http://www.gan.ru/mto/semto/nedd_otchet-2004.htm; See also: R.Alimov, C.Digges. Status Report: RTGs still an underestimated foe in securing loose nukes in Russia//http://www.bellona.no/en/international/russia/navy/northern_fleet/incidents/37566.html April, 2005.
57. Report by Minister of Atomic Energy Alexander Rumyantsev at the IAEA conference "Security of Radioactive Sources," Vienna, Austria. March 11th 2003, http://www.iaea.org/worldatom/Press/Focus/RadSources/statement_rus.pdf
58. IAEA conference "Security of Radioactive Sources," Vienna, Austria. March 11th 2003. Findings of the Chair, http://www.iaea.org/worldatom/Press/Focus/RadSources/PDF/findings.pdf
59. The Murmansk Regional Administration. Statement on the international cooperation of November 22d 2000, http://www.murman.ru/ecology/comitet/report99/part7_5.html(In Russian).
60. Thomas Nilsen. Nuclear Lighthouses to be Replaced. //Bellona Web http://www.bellona.no/en/international/russia/nuke-weapons/nonproliferation/28067.html, Oslo, Febrary 2d 2003.
61. Pyotr Bolychev. Bolshe kron...// Murmansky Vestnik. Murmansk. April 12th 2003 (In Russian).
62. Correspondence between Bellona and Ingar Amundsen of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, September 23, 2004.
64. Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority. Strålevern Rapport 2005:4. Assessment of environmental, health and safety consequences of decommissioning radioisotope thermal generators (RTGs) in Northwest Russia. Østerås, Norway 2005 href=http://www.nrpa.no/dokumentarkiv/StralevernRapport4_05.pdf
65. A statements by deputy minister of Minatom Alexander Agapov in a reply to the author's question about RTG decommissioning at a Minatom conference in St Petersburg, September 1st 2003.
66. Information granted to the author in reply to an official inquiry to VNIITFA.
67. DOE budget information supplied by William Hoehn, III, director of the Washington Office of the Russian American Nuclear Security Advisory Council, in correspondence with Bellona, September, 17, 2004.
68. An answer by the head of Siberian interregional district of the Federal Federal Nuclear Regulatory Service Vladimir Prilepskikh and his deputy Sergei Chernov to the author on his question on the situations with RTGs in the district, 17.09.2004
69. Sergei Antipov: "V rabote s RITEGami glavnaya zapoved'...": http://www.minatom.ru/News/Main/view?id=15774&idChannel;=72 04 March 2005
70. Yakutia. 38 iz 75 radioizotopnykh generatorov podlezhat utilizatsii. Regnum News Agency, January 20th 2003 12:04 (In Russian). See also: N.R.Kuzelyov. A review of "Problemy radiatsionnoi bezopasnosti..."//Atomnaya strategiya, St. Petersburg, N1(6) June 2003, p. 33 (In Russian).