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Scepticism, even among pro-nukers, about Russia’s much boasted floating nuclear power plant

The Nuclear Power Plant of the Future May Be Floating Near Russia, NYT 26 Aug 26   18  “………some environmental groups — even those open to a role for nuclear power as a substitute for traditional power plants — are skeptical.

For one, they are not convinced by Rosatom’s assurances of safety. Critics worry that during a tsunami, the 21,000-ton steel structure might not ride out the wave. In a worst-case scenario, they say, it would instead be torn from its moorings and sent barreling inland, plowing through buildings until it landed, steaming and dented and with two active reactors on board, well away from its source of coolant.

In such a case, Rosatom says, a backup power source and coolant on board would prevent the reactors from melting down, at least for the first 24 hours. “During this time we would consider what to do,” said Dmitri Alekseyenko, the deputy director for Rosatom’s floating reactor program. Regulators in the United States, however, require on-land reactors to operate for 72 hours in an emergency shutdown without external water supplies.

And the fact that the technology is well tested in Russian ships gives critics little solace, given a long history of spills and accidents involving nuclear-powered submarines and icebreakers operated by the Soviet and Russian navies.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Soviet Union dumped reactors in the Kara Sea, in the Arctic Ocean north of Kola Bay. Russian nuclear submarines sank in 1989 and 2000, while one Russian nuclear icebreaker caught fire in 2011 and the reactor on another leaked radiation that year, according to Bellona, a Norwegian environmental group.

“The question is, would clients of Russia be comfortable with something like this being parked right at a pier in a major city?” Matthew McKinzie, director of the nuclear program at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, said in a telephone interview.

A Greenpeace sailboat tailed the Akademik Lomonosov on its maiden voyage from a shipyard in St. Petersburg to Murmansk, where it will be fueled, flying a banner in English saying: “Floating Nuclear Reactor? Srsly?”  ….

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August 27, 2018 - Posted by | Russia, spinbuster, technology

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