Correspondence about a Russian radioactive lighthouse (May, 2001)

From: "Russell D. Hoffman"
Subject: Re: [Fwd: 2 suffer radiation sickness while stealing metal from nuclear lighthouse]
Cc: "Scott D. Portzline" , NASA email addresses

Hi Scott,

Regarding the news item shown below, I wonder if this was a PU 238-powered lighthouse? It sounds like it to me. I doubt it was a nuclear reactor.

The Russians originated the idea of RTGs (Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators). We took the idea from them way back in the 1950's and started building military underwater listening devices powered by Pu 238 and other very hot radioactive isotopes. RTGs (now called RPSs, for "Radioactive Power Sources") have been used on numerous NASA space missions including a number of navigational satellites (one of which failed to achieve orbit; the Pu was recovered) SNAP-9A (which also failed to achieve orbit; its Pu was dispersed and NASA was widely condemned), the Apollo moon missions (one (Apollo 13) also failed to achieve its mission objectives, its Pu was unceremoniously dumped in the Pacific). Successful NASA nuclear missions have included Pioneer, Viking, Voyager, Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini (launched in the face of stiff opposition) and others. Most interplanetary missions have RHUs on board (Radioactive Heater Units, also called LWRHUs (Light Weight RHUs)), if not RTGs. RHU's contain about 2.7 grams -- millions of lethal doses -- of plutonium, mostly Pu 238. Undoubtedly there have also been numerous military launches as well, including probably, one that exploded just after launch in 1998. (An immediate cover-up of the facts, and some "hilarious" (in its own little way) spin-doctoring ensued.)

All of the undersea listening devices need to be collected for proper burial. There are probably thousands of them. Pu must NOT be used in space. The military uses of Pu must be fully explained to the public so that the public can take the proper action. And obviously, Russian metal thieves need to be made aware of the hazards as well.


Russell Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA
Attachments (2)


Here is a discussion of the historic aspects of the U.S. use of Pu 238 devices, from my STOP CASSINI newsletter #94 (from a letter to someone):

"I have before me a U.S. Government printing office booklet from 1957 -- 42 years ago -- called OUTER SPACE PROPULSION BY NUCLEAR ENERGY which is subtitled HEARINGS BEFORE SUBCOMMITTEES OF THE JOINT SUBCOMMITTEE ON ATOMIC ENERGY CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES EIGHTY-FIFTH CONGRESS SECOND SESSION ON OUTER SPACE PROPULSION BY NUCLEAR ENERGY. Found in an old bookstore, no public library would waste time with such dusty relics.

Anyway, great titles, these Gummint documents, eh?

Besides showing that the whole idea of using hot isotopes for thermocouples was taken from the Russians, from texts translated by none other than the Westinghouse Corporation, this booklet shows that they have been studying all along the other "wonders" of these deadly devices.

I'll quote from page 128. The "things" the speaker is talking about are "thermocouple conversion units" (radioactive, using various isotopes). Colonel Jack L. Armstrong was at the time Deputy Chief, Aircraft Reactors Branch (!!!), Division of Reactor Development, Atomic Energy Commission. Al Gore Sr., the Veep's dad, was on the subcommittee. Like father, like son? Has Al Gore Jr. tried to stop any of this, or even expose it? NO!!!!!!

(Colonel Armstrong speaking): "...we had this symposium, if you will. We invited people from industry, we invited everybody in the Army and Navy we could think of that were working on things like this, to see if we had some useful purpose for them, and these are just some of the things they came up with that they thought they would like to use these for.

"We have had inquiries from the meteorological people. They think it would be quite nice to have something like this scattered over the South Atlantic during the hurricane season which would report back automatically what types of pressures they were sensing so that you could forecast the buildup of hurricanes prior to the time they had actually built up into one.

"Where you have a cost of something like $26 a gallon for diesel fuel up on the DEW line and you have diesel engines running to power radars and like that, it might be cheaper to have this device sitting there by itself with no people attending it.

"The number of things people have thought of for us to use this for is far greater than this list."

He then explains that they feel it actually works BETTER in a gravity field (i.e., on Earth) that in outer space and concludes,

"But you have to let your imaginations roam and wherever you need electrical energy where it is difficult to get it, this is the way to do it."

So there you have it, Sir. They've probably been dropping little Pu-238 puke nukes on the sea bed for decades. Near the Earth's poles. Anywhere they like, frankly.

Please feel encouraged to pass this around. And please consider subscribing to my free newsletter too! Thanks!

Russell Hoffman
Founder and Editor
STOP CASSINI newsletter
Founder and Webmaster


At 08:31 AM 5/25/01 -0700, Carol Jahnkow wrote:
From: "Scott D. Portzline"
To: "nukenet"
Subject: 2 suffer radiation sickness while stealing metal from nuclear lighthouse
Date: Thu, 24 May 2001 21:12:38 -0400

Thursday May 24 1:41 PM ET
Thieves Dismantle Nuclear-Lighthouse

MOSCOW (AP) - Four unemployed men in search of scrap metal dismantled generators at a nuclear-powered lighthouse in northern Russia, exposing themselves to dangerous doses of radiation, an official said Thursday.

Viktor Kozlov, an adviser on nuclear safety in the city government in White Sea port of Kandalaksha, said the men removed the lead covers on the generators that power the lighthouse.

The Russian Navy confirmed that the theft had taken place and that the lighthouse was no longer operating, but declined to provide details or say when it would be repaired.

Two of the men were hospitalized with radiation sickness, while another two are in jail, ORT television reported. The men hoped to earn $103 each from the sale of the lead, the station said.

Vera Lisovskaya, a doctor at the local hospital in Kandalaksha, told ORT that the two who were hospitalized had burned their hands and eyes during the theft.

Kozlov said the dismantled lighthouse presented no danger to the environment or to people outside its immediate vicinity, but ORT said the roads leading to the lighthouse were blocked off.

Scavenging for nonferrous metals is a widespread and dangerous practice in Russia, with railroads, electric and telephone cables and public monuments all frequent targets. The country's energy monopoly, UES, says hundreds of thieves are electrocuted each year.


Recent essays (2000-2001) by Russell Hoffman:



This web page has been presented on the World Wide Web by:

The Animated Software Company
Mail to:
First posted June, 2001.

Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman