Friday, July 29, 2005

Russian Nuclear Barges???

The TimesOnline in the UK is reporting in this piece “Safety fear overruled for Putin's floating reactors” that the Russians are planning to build floating nuclear power plants. The intent is to provide electricity to remote northern ports that are inaccessible by road. An excerpt:

Each floating plant will house a 70 megawatt reactor similar to that on a nuclear submarine, or icebreaker, and big enough to power a city of 200,000 people. They will probably be assembled in St Petersburg, Russia’s second city, before being towed to their destinations around the coast.

The far eastern regions of Kamchatka and Chukotka — governed by the oil tycoon Roman Abramovich — have already signed up for one each and other regions are expected to follow. Each plant is designed to last 40 years and will cost about $200 million (£115 million).

China signed a $86.5 million deal this week to build the boat for the first one, while Russia will construct the reactor block. Russia also plans to export plants to China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Middle East and even Canada.

The TimesOnline article brings up some valid concerns especially when it comes to the Russians. The first concern being the poor environmental record the Russians have with nuclear power. (Although using the Kursk for an example of this doesn't quite fit the theme of the piece) I posted similar environmental concerns on a different nutty Russian proposal regarding Nuclear Submarine disposal back in April.

The second problem is related to the first in that they claim the reactor will be 9/11 style terrorist attack hardened and therefore safe from an environmental disaster. A hardened reactor for just $200 Million a pop, that doesn’t sound right. But then they intend to put floating reactors up for sale to the MIDDLE EAST!!! So I guess the real strategy is, don’t fly planes into our reactors and we’ll just sell you one of your own. How do you say "proliferation risk" in russian?

Portable nuclear power plants moved by ship/barge is an interesting concept if it didn't come from government that is broke, corrupt and sliding back to authorianism. Any thoughts from the maneuvering watchstanders?

1 comment:

CDR Salamander said...

Not a new concept. Don't forget about the great 1970s Offshore Power Systems (OPS) in Jacksonville Florida.

It is also is on the below, all about floating nuke plants.