Author Topic: Soviet "РИД-1" smoke detector with 2 powerful plutonium mix sources  (Read 559 times)

Offline NEYi

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This forum branch gotta have at least some stuff in it. :D

So I've found this thing on a local flea market, and after seeing radiation hazard symbol couldn't help myself buying it. Btw, it costed me $2. :)



"РИД-1" was a very common smoke detector throughout USSR, installed in universities, libraries, schools, factories – practically everywhere.
The problem with this detector is that it's straight DANGEROUS, and practically nobody thought back in the day these will be thrown away into dumpsters or sold to people as junk.
There are several problems that could be mentioned:
1. By datasheet, there should be 3 sources inside one "RID-1": two alpha sources with Pu-239 and a vacuum tube activated with Nickel-60.
In reality, instead of Pu-239 manufacturer "Маяк"(known in ex-USSR for nuclear disasters and contamination all over the place) used reactor mix, consisting of whole spectrum of isotopes, and there's a whole 1 milli-curie of this stuff in both sources. The most problematic impurity is the Pu-241, it has half-life of 13 years and decays into, wait for it... Americium 241. ;D
That's a powerful gamma source, and the more time has passed since production date – the more powerful gamma these sources will emit(mine's almost 40 y.o.).
2. The situation gets worse, since gamma produced by Am-241 is a soft one and is poorly detected by common Geiger counters – they'll only show that the "RID-1" detector is mildly active...
While in reality, if measured with scintillation counter – "RID-1" will be detected from 3 to 5 meters radius, and it's advised not to live under one for prolonged periods of time.
3. Of course, soviet gov. knew about dangers of these smoke detectors – that's why they were installed only in gov. installations and after use every single detector had to be returned to manufacturer. They were listed equipment, and in case of loss there would be problems on someone's ass, chief of the installation in particular.
However, nobody in the late 70s could predict the USSR will go kaput in less than 2 decades.
Conquered republics has fell off russian empire, including my county Ukraine, and everybody just forgot about these listed detectors.
People started throwing them in garbage, selling on flea markets, or even cooler – in old buildings they're still being fastened to ceilings, I personally seen one in my local university. ;D
In worse cases – these got destroyed, contaminating the environment: https://i.imgur.com/qWLD9OH.jpg

Of course, I removed both plutonium sources from my detector, as well as Ni-60 vacuum tube.
All three are now stored in a tin can with thick layer of lead on it's walls.
If someone's curious – these sources are called "АДИ", and look like this: https://i.imgur.com/Pj7ATgf.jpg

If anyone got questions – feel free to ask. ;)
I'm on a huge rock, flying through space!

Offline Uspring

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Re: Soviet "РИД-1" smoke detector with 2 powerful plutonium mix sources
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2018, 02:10:13 PM »
Whoa, what a story! I'd consider a 1mC source as viciously radioactive.

During my PhD student days we used Co60 sources to calibrate our gamma ray detectors. They had just a few uC activity. We got them from our keeper of radioactive materials, enclosed in a box and were to return them to her as soon as we were done with them.
During all our work we had to wear film badges and an electrostatic type of dosimeter, where a radiation dose could be monitored by the discharge through ionisation. The latter was not as accurate as the film but could be checked by the wearer any time.

Our radiation safety guys wanted to be on the safe side, of course. After Chernobyl happened, they told me, that, according to standard procedures, they would have to fence off the rain water puddles on the parking lot in front of the building. They didn't. What use could that have had?

Be careful.

Offline futurist

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Re: Soviet "РИД-1" smoke detector with 2 powerful plutonium mix sources
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2018, 03:23:18 PM »
I would love to get my hands on one of those :) Thanks for sharing
We had similar problem in Croatia with radioactive lightning rods, only difference is that they contained insane amount of cobalt-60. There was a plan to dispose of all of them by year 2005, but I'm sure plenty are left because I know for at least one that is not removed

Offline Mads Barnkob

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Re: Soviet "РИД-1" smoke detector with 2 powerful plutonium mix sources
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2018, 11:00:29 AM »
Truly a piece of hardware that comes into the category of "Professional Russian" :) At least they put a huge warning sign on the outside of it.

In Denmark we have always had a strong movement against nuclear energy so the only ever facilities we had was for research and they are now all under decommission: http://www.danskdekommissionering.dk/english/nuclear-facilities.aspx

So our smoke detectors only carry 1/1000 of the material of that one, measured in Curie.

I recently just invested in new networked smoke detectors for my home, no more radioactive elements, now its just a combination of light traps and heat detection.
http://www.kaizerpowerelectronics.dk - Tesla coils, high voltage, pulse power, audio and general electronics

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Re: Soviet "РИД-1" smoke detector with 2 powerful plutonium mix sources
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2018, 11:00:29 AM »

 


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