MOSCOW, February 12. /TASS/. Russia and the United States have jointly withdrawn all radioactive sources from the Russian polar stations in the Antarctic, Russia’s Antarctic Expedition Head Valery Lukin said on Friday.
"We have withdrawn 4 RITEGs [radioisotope thermoelectric generators] and 4 ionizing radiation sources. These were the last and there are no more radioactive sources at the Russian Antarctic stations," Lukin said.
"They were brought to the Russian Antarctic stations in the 1960s-1970s to provide for the work of meteorologists and geophysicists," he said.
All these radioactive sources have been collected and withdrawn from the Russian Antarctic stations over the past few years "thanks to cooperation between the Russian and American Antarctic Expeditions. And this was quite an uneasy logistical effort because a vessel cannot reach the territory of our country without a call [at ports on the territory of other states]," he said.
"That is why, intensive talks were held with the governments of Germany and Argentina, at which territory we were allowed to call with radioactive sources. This work was successfully completed and these sources were transferred to the relevant organization for disposal," said Alexander Frolov, head of Russia’s Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Rosgidromet).
Apart from radioactive waste, the Russian Antarctic stations also accumulated a large amount of everyday and other waste. Specifically, Russian research and expedition vessels annually withdraw about 300 tons of garbage from the Antarctic.