Radioactive sources in lighthouse lamps: Removal and waste treatment
Desolate areas along the
Russian Arctic coastline contain hundreds of lighthouse lamps powered by
strontium batteries (RITEGs) that pose a local pollution hazard. The absence
of physical protection makes them readily accessible to unauthorised
persons. A series of attempted thefts in recent years has shown that they
could also be accessible to terrorists. Removing the sources and replacing
them with solar cell technology brings them under the control of the
authorities in Mayak and reduces the risk of them going astray. It also
reduces the risk of pollution of the marine environment.
NRPA Bulletin 07-2004: Dissmantling of RTGs on the
Alongside the project for replacing RTGs with solar panels, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is funding the final disposal of removed RTGs. Both projects involve the joint Norwegian-Russian expert group set up to investigate radioactive contamination in the northern areas, and are headed by the County Governor of Finnmark.
A long-term objective will be to remove all strontium batteries in Russian lighthouse lamps in Norways near abroad and replace them with solar panels. At a rate of removal of twenty RTGs per year, it will take about eight years to achieve the objective of removing every one of them. In february 2005, The minister og Foreign affairs signed an international agreement with Russia with the goal to remove all remaining RTGs in Murmansk, Arkhangelsk and nenets. There are plans to remove 31 RTGs in 2005 with Norwegian financial support.
In february 2005, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with the NRPA and Finnmark`s County Governor, arranged an international CEG-workshop, on the removal of RTGs, werein 80 individuals from 11 nations participated. There is now a great international willingness to contribute towards the removal of these radiostrontium sources in Russia and one of the results from the workshop was an initiative tabled to establish an international coordination group on this theme.