On Saturday, the world’s first floating nuclear power unit (FPU) dubbed ‘Academik Lomonosov’ departed from the region of Baltiyskiy Zavod in St. Petersburg, towed by two deep-sea tugboats.
The ‘Academik Lomonosov,’ a massive barge containing floating nuclear reactors, leaves St. Petersburg over the weekend. (Source: Anton Vaganov/TASS)
A-News captures video of the departure
A floating nuclear power plant made by Russia headed out for its first sea voyage on Saturday. The floating plant, the academic lomonosov will provide power for a port town and for oil rigs. pic.twitter.com/Eo0uBjVfht
— ANews (@anewscomtr) April 28, 2018
Russia’s first floating nuclear power plant has two KLT-40S reactor units that collectively generate 70 MW of energy. The tugs are currently underway — towing the vessel through the Baltic Sea to a port in northwestern Russia called Murmansk, where its reactors will be loaded with nuclear fuel.
According to the company that manufactured the floating power plant, state-owned Rosatom Corporation, Deputy Head of the Directorate for the Floating NPP Construction and Operation Dmitriy Alekseenko said in a press release that towing the vessel will occur in two stages: first from St. Petersburg to Murmansk, and then from Murmansk to Pevek.
“At the first stage, the FPU with no nuclear fuel on board will be towed from the territory of Baltiyskiy Zavod to the landing of Atomflot FSUE in Murmansk. Then, at the second stage (roughly in the summer of 2019) it will be sent from Murmansk to the seaport of Pevek, loaded with nuclear fuel and with the crew on board,” Alekseenko said.
After ‘Akademik Lomonosov’ is towed to Murmansk, “nuclear fuel will be loaded into the reactor, and it will be physically started-up in Murmansk this autumn,” said Rosatom’s press release.
Rosatom said the second leg of the journey, from Murmansk to Pevek, will begin in the second half of 2019. The vessel is expected to be towed “along the Northern Sea Route to the work site, unloaded at the mooring berth, and connected to the coastal infrastructure in Pevek,” added the press release.
Pevek is a small Arctic port town and the governmental center of Chaunsky District in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia, located on Chaunskaya Bay.
Once the floating nuclear power plant is moored and connected to the coastal infrastructure in Pevek, the nuclear reactors aboard will be used to power 100,000 homes in the region, a desalination plant, and critical energy infrastructure assets. Rosatom said the floating power plant “will replace the Bilibino nuclear power plant and Chaunskaya TPP that are technologically outdated,” and become the most northerly nuclear facility in the world.
However, the floating nuclear power plant has been extensively criticized by antipollutionist — Greenpeace has called it a “floating Chernobyl.”
“Nuclear reactors bobbing around the Arctic Ocean will pose a shockingly obvious threat to a fragile environment, which is already under enormous pressure from climate change,” Greenpeace nuclear expert Jan Haverkamp said in a statement.
“The floating nuclear power plants will typically be put to use near coastlines and shallow water … contrary to claims regarding safety, the flat-bottomed hull and the floating nuclear power plant’s lack of self-propulsion makes it particularly vulnerable to tsunamis and cyclones.”
Meanwhile, Rosatom states the vessel meets all requirements from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and “does not pose any threat to the environment.”
“The FNPP is designed with the great margin of safety that exceeds all possible threats and makes nuclear reactors invincible for tsunamis and other natural disasters. In addition, the nuclear processes at the floating power unit meet all requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and do not pose any threat to the environment.”
Do you want to know one of the most probable reasons why Russia would want a floating power plant in the Arctic?
Speaking to reporters in 2017 after a conference with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Russia’s proposal to jointly explore the Northern Sea Route was “a great idea,” and that “China welcomes this idea and supports efforts with partners in the region to develop a ‘Silk Road on ice’.”
The Answer: Provide the needed energy to built infrastructure for the ‘Silk Road on ice.’
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