Strontium power-source lost at sea

Publish date: August 13, 1997

Written by: Thomas Nilsen

On August 12, an MI-8 helicopter lost a radioactive power-source for an automatic meteorological station located on cape Maria near Sakhalin in the Far East of Russia, reports NNS news agency. The Strontium-containing power-source hit the sea bottom at 20 meter's depth.

According to an official from the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the lost container held a lead capsule of 2,5 kg containing Strontium-90. Today a special vessel of the Pacific Fleet went out to salvage the container which lies 20 meters below the ocean surface.

Meanwhile on the Kola peninsula, one of the light-houses equipped with a similar Strontium power source is to be re-equipped with a solar powered energy generator on August 15. The project was initiated and funded by Norwegian county Finmark. The total spendings were 266,000 Nok, plus 7,000 USD in taxes.

All in all, the Northern Fleet operates some 2000 lighthouses. More than 100 of these are powered by Strontium-batteries (they’re called RTGs, as in RadioisotopeThermo Generators, producing electricity from the heat of the radioactive matter). In the area of the Kola Peninsula there are located 47 RTG-powered lighthouses.