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You Light Up My Life (In More Ways Than One)
January 11, 2009 5:03 PM   Subscribe

A visit to Russian abandoned nuclear lighthouses.. Despite the hazards, there has been much vandalism of these sites. The IAEA has taken on the task of decommissioning these radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTG's).
posted by Xurando (25 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
The official euphemism for these sources is "orphan sources"
posted by pseudonick at 5:18 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Damn InterestingTM
posted by punkfloyd at 5:44 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


At first glance IAEA looked like IKEA and I got to thinking: what possible benefit could IKEA get from decommissioning nuclear lighthouses? And then the answer came to me... I should buy glasses and get tested for ADD.
posted by pwally at 5:47 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Further evidence that scrap metal scavengers and especially the "no ask, no tell" dealers who buy from them are among the lowest life forms on earth.
posted by maxwelton at 5:48 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Too cheap to meter!
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:53 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Was ther anything in the old Soviet Union that wasn't nuclear powered?

Nuclear powered toothbrush- triumph of Soviet technology. Radiation provides power and liquidates bad breath odor. Teeth will glow.
posted by mattoxic at 5:54 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Eponysterical!
posted by The White Hat at 6:01 PM on January 11, 2009


I used to live next to the first and only nuclear light house in the USA. 1-mile out off the end of my dock. Of course, it was no longer nuclear by then, for about 2-years in the 1950s. Now in private hands, solar powered.
posted by stbalbach at 6:21 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I want to vandalize an nuclear lighthouse and get chemotherapy
I want to vandalize an nuclear lighthouse and my bones will glow green
I'll steal fuel rods by the light of day
Because scrap metal dealers pay by weight
I want to vandalize an nuclear lighthouse, won't that be okay?
posted by adipocere at 6:29 PM on January 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Ah, English Russia, god bless you for your stolen content and poor translations.
posted by dead cousin ted at 6:41 PM on January 11, 2009


nice post...thanks...
posted by HuronBob at 6:59 PM on January 11, 2009


Ah Russian Ukranian dating site link, I like your choices; faces like squat smiling mushrooms, beckoning me to your own special radioactive glow of a thousand half-lives...
posted by buzzman at 7:57 PM on January 11, 2009


dead cousin ted: Ah, English Russia, god bless you for your stolen content and poor translations.

There was a time that I felt that way about ER, too. But then I was grateful that I was able to see some stuff from a world I would not normally be able to see.

Also, Poor Translation > No Translation.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:14 PM on January 11, 2009


Radioactive.
Lighthouse in my pants. It glows.
A shining beacon.
posted by buzzman at 8:29 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


what possible benefit could IKEA get from decommissioning nuclear lighthouses? And then the answer came to me... I should buy glasses and get tested for ADD.

I recommend the Ivrig, though Godis is also nice.
posted by rokusan at 9:26 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wikipedia has an awesome article on RTGs.
posted by mrbill at 10:13 PM on January 11, 2009


Further evidence that scrap metal scavengers and especially the "no ask, no tell" dealers who buy from them are among the lowest life forms on earth.

No doubt. All scrap metal smelters have sensitive geiger counters because if radioactive material gets in there it is a fucking nightmare. The whole batch of melt is contaminated (and god knows where that will end up - your forks?) plus the smelter is contaminated and any future batches will be slightly contaminated by it also. I'm too lazy to google, but there was a case of this happening in India recently.
posted by atrazine at 11:25 PM on January 11, 2009


Thanks for this fascinating tale, Xurando. All summer/fall I lead a boat tour of lighthouses in Down East Maine (each fascinating in its own way, despite not being nuclear). Thanks also to stbalbach for giving me a nice trivia question/answer to add to the tour this summer.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:37 PM on January 11, 2009


Well, that's certainly a better use of nuclear power than Project Pluto, which thankfully we decided was a bad idea after folks realized it would spew fallout all along the way of it's trip.

(not that, you know, unshielded nuclear reactor -anything- isn't a bad idea to begin with...)
posted by yeloson at 11:59 PM on January 11, 2009


On first glance, I couldn't grasp the idea of someone building nuclear-powered lighthouses, so I thought this was a euphemism for far-flung radiation monitoring "lighthouses". Man.

Clearly I grew up in the wrong part of the nuclear age, getting all of the fear and none of the excitement.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:27 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Futzing around with an abandoned Russian nuclear anything seems... unwise.
posted by Cyrano at 6:33 AM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


lelilo: "Thanks also to stbalbach for giving me a nice trivia question/answer to add to the tour this summer."

One can see the lighthouse when crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Look north and see two lighthouses on the western side of the bay. The one furthest away, about 4 to 5 miles from the bridge, is the ex-nuclear.
posted by stbalbach at 6:49 AM on January 12, 2009


Russian Radioactive Lighthouse is one of those wonderful things that sounds like it should be a nonsense phrase but isn't.
posted by The Whelk at 9:25 AM on January 12, 2009


From that interesting article linked by mrbill I followed this link on RTGs from an environmental organisation called Bellona. Also to be recommended.
posted by jouke at 11:25 AM on January 12, 2009


So that's the thing Dr Fred had in the bottom of the pool at house.

I found jouke's link a morbidly interesting read... Appalled to learn lots of RTG's just lie around, up for grabs; some are dismantled down to the strontium; several looters died from radiation poisoning; one RTG heated up to 800 degrees inside after being run over by a jeep; and a couple fell into the sea during transport or due to having been installed near the cliff. It goes on.
posted by yoHighness at 10:07 AM on January 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


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