Author Topic: Soviet "РИД-1" smoke detector with 2 powerful plutonium mix sources  (Read 3076 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

Offline Patrick

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Re: Soviet "РИД-1" smoke detector with 2 powerful plutonium mix sources
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2019, 09:59:26 AM »
"Professional Russian Engineering" is that like "Cowboy Engineering" here in the US ?

Offline Mads Barnkob

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Re: Soviet "РИД-1" smoke detector with 2 powerful plutonium mix sources
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2019, 10:36:52 PM »
"Professional Russian Engineering" is that like "Cowboy Engineering" here in the US ?

I think it was a meme started by the youtuber FPSRussian: https://www.google.com/search?q=professional+russian&newwindow=1&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X

I my world it means "doing something without proper protection or care, that the West would consider dangerous"
http://www.kaizerpowerelectronics.dk - Tesla coils, high voltage, pulse power, audio and general electronics

Offline MRMILSTAR

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This reminds me of a news story that I read some years ago. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, apparently many small nuclear sources were unaccounted for. This article related an incident where 2 homeless people were in the Russian countryside one night in the winter. They came upon a barrel-shaped object which was warm. Since it was very cold outside they decided to sleep next to the object to stay warm. The next day they woke up with severe burns all over their bodies. As you may have guessed the object was discarded nuclear material. I don't remember the eventual fate of the people.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 08:18:08 PM by MRMILSTAR »
Steve White
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Offline klugesmith

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Might it have been an abandoned RTG (Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator)?
The Soviet Union installed hundreds of those to power navigation aids along the northern coast, among other remote uses.  They used strontium 90, much easier to get than plutonium 238.  Supposedly well shielded and armored, but maybe not after decades of neglect.

One online reference said initial activities were 1100 to 6700 TBq. 
That's 30 to 180 kilocuries. About 100 to 600 thermal watts.

The hospital equipment story I remember was from some cobalt 60 that ended up mixed with ferrous scrap at a Mexican foundry.  Turned up as some dangerously radioactive table bases.  Anybody know how much activity is in Co-60 sources for imaging or radiotherapy?
« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 03:39:30 AM by klugesmith »

Offline Mads Barnkob

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Co-60 sources are used for offshore or other EX area structural xray imaging.

That is typically on pipes and legs up to several meter in diameter, filled with concrete if it is the main legs.
http://www.kaizerpowerelectronics.dk - Tesla coils, high voltage, pulse power, audio and general electronics

Offline johnf

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CO-60 is also used for sterilisation.
I have seen the installation just up the road from me, it is the biggest radiological source in the southern hemisphere outside of reactors
a few kilograms of CO-60 spend most of its life 10 meters down in a pool of water nice blue glow eminates from it.
the shielded room that it is in is filled with articles to be sterilised mostly veterinary and hospital one use articles.
The source is raised out of the water and several lethal doses are given to all the objects in the room and the source is returned to its pool. there are special stick on labels that each sealed bag has on it that change colour from green to orange with radiation damage to indicate that each item has had its required dose

Offline MRMILSTAR

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Re: Soviet "РИД-1" smoke detector with 2 powerful plutonium mix sources
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2020, 08:24:41 PM »
I'm willing to accept a moderate amount of risk with my hobbies. However, one area that I stay completely away from is radioactivity. You can't switch it on and off like HV equipment. The radiation is always there and you never know if you are being irradiated until it is too late. Just ingesting a tiny amount can be fatal over time. An unacceptable level of risk for me.
Steve White
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Retired electrical engineer

Offline klugesmith

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Re: Soviet "РИД-1" smoke detector with 2 powerful plutonium mix sources
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2020, 04:13:55 AM »
Hey, I stumbled on a picture of device much like NEYi showed us in OP here.

on a page about americium, in a nonquantitative site about evil materials in our world:
https://poison.news/2017-11-11-americium-toxicity-side-effects-diseases-and-environmental-impacts.html

Regarding Steve's comment above:
Look at the mad-scientist chemistry boards. 
There are people who have fun home-making fireworks, and high explosives, many psychoactive drugs for sure, maybe even horrible toxins.  Just as drugstores carry the precursors for methamphetamine or MDMA, maybe some insecticide from garden center is the closest accessible starting point for sarin.  I have little interest and even less expertise in those things.

My current interest in alpha-emitting radioisotopes, shown in another thread, is incidental to practicing the detection of free neutrons.  In the spirit of safety, I want to bring up a trustworthy electronic alpha particle detector, before borrowing a many-microcurie source from an old smoke detector.  Any Am241 that falls off or leaks out would be invisible, like coronavirus particles, and remain hazardous for a long time.  Unlke coronavirus particles, it comes with a built-in radioactive tracer.


I found something wrong on the internet  :) and want to share it.

Not literally wrong, but many elements were first made in America.  It is no coincidence that that name was adopted for element 95, which is directly below europium in the periodic table.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2020, 04:55:31 AM by klugesmith »

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Re: Soviet "РИД-1" smoke detector with 2 powerful plutonium mix sources
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2020, 04:13:55 AM »

 


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