The Soviet Union's Deadly Abandoned Nuclear Generators -

The Soviet Union’s Deadly Abandoned Nuclear Generators

Andy Mcloone
Views: 1198181
Like: 35425
Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators, or RTGs (sometimes incorrectly called Nuclear Batteries) are usually utilized in deep space exploration.
But during the 1970s and 1980s, during the height of The Cold War, The Soviet Union manufactured over 2500 terrestrial RTGs to power its unmanned Lighthouses and Radio Navigation Beacons on the Northern Arctic seaboard, or deployed in the USSR’s remotest hinterland rural regions.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, all these highly dangerous, intensely radioactive devices were simply abandoned in situ, and left to rot for the next 2 decades…. until they started to kill people in the 21st century, with Acute Radiation Exposure. This finally caused the international community to start to take the hazard they posed seriously.

This 30 min video is a documentary on the reasons the Soviet Engineers chose to use dangerous Radioisotope Thermal Generators to power equipment, the technology and nuclear physics behind them, with the help of Matt Damon in the movie ‘ The Martian’ (2015) .
We explore some Abandoned Places in the Former Soviet Union that are still home to decaying RTGS , such as Aniva Lighthouse, on Russia’s Sakhalin Island.
Finally the video tells the story of the Lia, Georgia Radiation Incident of 2001, when 3 Georgian woodsmen, accidentally stumbled upon an abandoned, highly radioactive RTG core. Which sadly killed one man and seriously injured the others.
An incident that needed human radiation clean up techniques not seen since the ‘bio-robots’ of the 1986 Chernobyl Disaster.

Despite several years of The Russian Federation and the EU/US West cooperating to decommission and make safe many orphan Soviet RTGs after the Lia Incident, since 2014 Vladimir Putin’s government has withdrawn this international cooperation, leaving 100s of these highly radioactive and deadly devices unaccounted for across Russia, posing a deadly threat to its unsuspecting rural population.


00:38 Intro
01:02 Space RTGs (featuring Matt Damon)
02:48 Soviet Kerosine Lantern Radios
05:50 Soviet Terrestrial RTG Technology
15:20 The Post Soviet Years
20:15 The Lia, Georgia Radiation Incident – 2001
29:36 The present situation and ominous future

#coldwar #soviet #nuclearphysics #abandonedplaces


  1. They would rather 10 people die than supply 2 rad suits per recovery ?

  2. Seems like a deadyl recipe for terrorists getting their hands on nuclear material. But maybe I've just been playing too much CoD… 😅

  3. I need such a generator for my flat, energy in germany is prohibitive

  4. RTGs power the voyager craft and many othet things we have in space.

  5. Basically a great engineering solution for the power needs in remote locations but handled like shit due to politics and corruption… typical Russia

  6. Should be able to detect these from drones and low flying aircraft. Don't need the Russians. Just hobbyists on a mission given the detectors. Or detectors and data collection and distribution mounted on all imported drones and small aircraft. Eventually you map the entire country.

  7. What a beautiful, well done video. Thank you for all the work you put into this. I have ADHD, so keeping my attention for this long is no easy feat. Bravo sir.

  8. There is a disproportionate paranoia towards anything nuclear. Of course RTG source is dangerous, but so are munitions, hv power lines, toxic chemical compounds. Surely you should not sleep warming yourself from a strontium source, but using very basic precautions and equipped with a geiger counter it should be possible to handle it safely without international mobilization.

  9. Still safer than living in a Democrat run City in America.

  10. Excellent vid, my guy! Worth watching every minute!

  11. Seriously. Radiation is one of the few things that actually scare me. Id rather drown in a sinking ship than be exposed to a lethal dose of radiation.

    How Russia can go "Haha, to punish you we stop fixing OUR problem!" when it comes to something this dangerous is astounding.

  12. Those men securing the open source are goddamn heros

  13. Great work, Andy. Factual. Real investigative reporting. ❤

  14. 18:38 I think the label, "пов" is short for "повреждение" or "damage." So like "DAM" for "damaged"

  15. 18:38 I think the label, "пов" is short for "повреждение" or "damage." So like "DAM" for "damaged"

  16. Thank you for the video! Amazing insight!

  17. What an interesting and excellent topic and documentation mate!
    I knew RTGs only being used by NASA but this is another level.

    Would love to hear more ancient Soviet Radiology stuff that is "frightening" if you stumble upon it

  18. 27:50 This guy was the bravest, he walked right up to the thing, and brought it out to the open. Kudos to these brave men, and very interesting video!

  19. Russia can't afford to do that. The money it would cost would be stolen. This was an excellent video

  20. Oh cool. I love old soviet stuff. The hidden world behind the iron curtain.

  21. Well done, the historical footage was especially compelling..

  22. We could all have modular reactors. Safer than coal.

  23. Great job , really nicely done. Thank you

  24. I mean work the kinks out deploy it properly with the correct maintanance and it's a pretty good idea, 20 years of power is impressive.

  25. on the glowing thing i agree on it but i noticed you never mentioned radium that was used back then with a additive for glowing alarm clocks etc

  26. Sri lankan war LTT 😕 ghost arms or bomb still blast off

  27. RTG's? If they are, they're in the nuclear category but often used for minor power generation for remote locations, or satellites.,

    Edit* Plutonium has an 88 year half life, lol surely this is where the 88Mph space/time continuum slogan got it's inspiration from? 🤔

  28. In university in 1995, in physics, we did experiments with radioactive isotopes that were stored in stainless steel boxes with lead sandwiched in them. Could they have not have stainless steel encased lead filled boxes around the older rtg’s or the newer strontium cylinders to make them safe(r)?

  29. Canada likely needs the new safer version in its Arctic too. Along with a good maintenance program in place. Pretty amazing technology if proper safety measure put in place.

  30. Man best doc I’ve seen since 2016 when they fked YouTube up banning everything, great channel

  31. When hooman greed for unknown DANGEROUSLY tech 😅

  32. I would imagine the reactors in their retired navy vessels are in good repair and safely stored though, yes?

  33. I run a Sovtek Mig 100 amplifier that’s radioactive

  34. I have a morbid fascination with all this nuclear technology and i have been aware of these and a few incidents with abandoned tech for a while. This was a good bit of story telling and it was nice to get some good solid info and nice photos of the real devices for a change, they are a lot bigger than i originally thought, iv been toying with the idea of making my own non-nuclear miniature version of such a device for a while now that could provide power when camping or out in the sticks.

    Good video definitely a like from me.

  35. I love power generators. We should all have our own.

  36. the end is so frustrating. Putin belongs in a prison for the rest of his life. This is just one more reason. Fantastic video, well researched and highly interesting. Thanks so much for this.

  37. Excellent video, never knew anything about any of this.

  38. While the whole world criticize Japan dump filtered nuclear water into the ocean.
    No one criticize Russia for dumping multiple nuclear submarines, multiple untreated nuclear core from the cold war. Also other countries have to pay them and provide free human resource to treat those horrible nuclear waste.
    This is the uncivilized cultural remains of the mongos and the communism, which people can found those charateristic on Chinese and Russians

  39. This was such an excellent video. The real footage of the 2001 incident was extremely compelling and seeing the actual Strontium-90 heat source being handled very quickly by those men and seeing the snow boil and produce steam from its heat is terrifying. You can hear the beeps of the geiger counters from the videographer standing a good distance away from the action, so you can imagine how much radiation was being put off up close where the disposal team was rushing to contain it.

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