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Russia’s ambitious, but dangerous floating nuclear power plants

safety-symbol-Smflag_RussiaRussia’s floating nuclear plants to power remote Arctic regions, The Conversation,  Tony Roulstone, 12 Nov 13  “…..Russia is embarking on an ambitious and somewhat imaginative programme of building floating nuclear power stations…… These reactors, mounted on huge, 140m by 30m barges, are being built in the Baltic shipyard in St Petersburg and will be floated through the Norwegian and Barents Seas to where they will generate heat and electrical power in the Arctic.

The first, Academician Lomonosov, has been built and its two 35MWe KLT-40S reactors are now being installed. Lomonosovis destined for Vilyuchinsk, on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East where she will be operating by 2016. Up to ten similar plants are destined for similarly remote and unpopulated areas……. The KLT-40S reactor is fuelled by 30-40% enriched uranium, which falls outside what would be allowed for civil use (concern about weapons proliferation limits enrichment to very low levels). The reactors are built in factories and assembled in shipyards, where productivity is much higher and quality standards easier to police than on construction sites. But military reactors are designed with little thought for costs and because of their small power output it’s very likely that their lifetime generating costs will be several times that of large, grid-connected reactors, and many more times higher that of a gas power station…….

Just how safe Russian military reactors are is clouded in secrecy; we just don’t know how safe the KLT-40S is. Russia has successfully operated nine nuclear icebreakers over the past 50 years. On the other hand we know that seven Russian nuclear submarines have sunk, some due to reactor problems and others due to weapons explosion onboard, and a further ten reported reactor accidents. So this reactor’s pedigree is not unblemished.

Cooling systems for civil reactors have become very complex and this is a prime cause of soaring construction costs. It is difficult to install in a naval vessel the number of systems and separate them so that they provide redundancy should one fail. …..

As with many other aspects, we do not know whether the containment structure of the Russian reactors will be effective. Though the Russians are being imaginative in developing barge-mounted reactors to address a problem specific to their geography and their needs, the lack of openness makes it hard to see how useful their nuclear technology can be in the West……. http://theconversation.com/russias-floating-nuclear-plants-to-power-remote-arctic-regions-19994

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November 12, 2013 - Posted by | Russia, safety

1 Comment »

  1. Christina,
    Thank you for the post. Sarcasm is no help but some times it’s all I can come up with. Probably no worse than Nuclear powered vessels (only with larger power plants) Read between the lines…
    The ones forced to relocate will need power. Ship to shore power is not a new application. Just sayin’
    thanks a

    Comment by Albert N Michall | November 12, 2013 | Reply


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