Wednesday, September 18, 2019 | ePaper

Russia launches floating nuclear reactor in Arctic despite warnings

  • Print


The Akademik Lomonosov is due to go into operation by the end of year, mainly serving the region's oil platforms as Russia develops the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Arctic.

AFP, Moscow :
 Russia will launch the world's first floating nuclear reactor and send it on an epic journey across the Arctic on Friday, despite environmentalists warning of serious risks to the region.
Loaded with nuclear fuel, the Akademik Lomonosov will leave the Arctic port of Murmansk to begin its 5,000 kilometre (3,000-mile) voyage to northeastern Siberia.
Nuclear agency Rosatom says the reactor is a simpler alternative to building a conventional plant on ground that is frozen all year round, and it intends to sell such reactors abroad.
But environmental groups have long warned of the dangers of the project, dubbing it a potential "Chernobyl on ice" and a "nuclear Titanic."
A deadly explosion this month at a military testing site in Russia's far north, causing a radioactive surge, has prompted further concerns. The reactor's trip is expected to last between four and six weeks, depending on the weather conditions and the amount of ice on the way. Work began on the 144-metre (472-foot) Akademik Lomonosov in Saint Petersburg in 2006.
When it arrives in Pevek, a town of 5,000 in the Siberian region of Chukotka, it will replace a local nuclear plant and a closed coal plant.
It is due to go into operation by the end of year, mainly serving the region's oil platforms as Russia develops the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Arctic.
Rashid Alimov, the head of the energy sector of Greenpeace Russia, said
environmental groups had been critical of the idea of a floating reactor
since the 1990s.
"Any nuclear power plant produces radioactive waste and can have an accident, but Akademik Lomonosov is additionally vulnerable to storms," he told AFP.
The float is towed by other vessels, making a collision during a storm more likely, he said.
Because Rosatom plans to store spent fuel onboard, Alimov said "any accident involving this fuel might have a serious impact on the fragile environment of the Arctic."
He added that there is "no infrastructure for a nuclear clean up" in the region.
Global warming and melting ice has made the Northeast Passage - which connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific along Russia's northern coast -more accessible.
When AFP visited the Akademik Lomonosov in May 2018, it was a shabby brown colour. It has since been repainted in the red, white and blue of the Russian flag.
The vessel weighs 21,000 tons and has two reactors with a capacity of 35 megawatts each, close to that of those used by nuclear icebreakers.

More News For this Category

No breakthrough in Brexit talks

No breakthrough in Brexit talks

AFP, Luxembourg :British Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to convince EU leaders on Monday he has a serious plan for a Brexit deal, then ducked out of a planned news

Swine fever hits South Korea

Swine fever hits South Korea

AFP, Seoul :South Korea on Tuesday reported its first cases of African swine fever, becoming the latest country hit by the disease that has killed pigs from China to North

Trump rages as NY Times clarifies its Kavanaugh story

Trump rages as NY Times clarifies its Kavanaugh story

US President Donald Trump blasted The New York Times Monday after it updated a story detailing a previously unreported accusation of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to

Poor countries will need to increase carbon footprint to address hunger: Study

Poor countries will need to increase carbon footprint to address hunger: Study

Achieving a nutritious diet with adequate calories in developing countries will require a substantial increase in greenhouse gas emissions and water use, scientists reported Monday, calling on high-income countries to

Iran supreme leader rules out negotiations with US

AFP, Tehran :Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday ruled out negotiations with the US, as tensions mount between the arch-foes after Washington blamed Tehran for attacks on Saudi

News In Brief

New Zealand PM to meet Trump for first formal talks Reuters, Wellington New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday she plans to meet with US President Donald Trump

Johnson the Brexit ‘Hulk’ finally meets EU's Juncker

Johnson the Brexit ‘Hulk’ finally meets EU's Juncker

AFP  :British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker for talks Monday insisting a Brexit deal is possible, despite deep scepticism from European capitals with just six weeks

Faster pace of climate change is 'scary', former chief scientist says

Faster pace of climate change is 'scary', former chief scientist says

Extreme events linked to climate change, such as the heatwave in Europe this year, are occurring sooner than expected, an ex-chief scientist says.Prof Sir David King says he's been scared

Netanyahu, Gantz spur supporters on eve of tense Israeli polls

AFP :Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main opponent Benny Gantz sought to galvanise supporters Monday on the eve of a tense election with the political fate of the

Trump rebuffs Kavanaugh impeachment calls after new sexual misconduct report

Reuters :United States President Donald Trump rejected Democrats' calls for impeaching Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Sunday after a new report involving sexual misconduct allegations, encouraging the latter to