A Russian company has announced that it will build the world’s first floating nuclear plant, opening up the possibility that the Russians could use such reactors to power operations to extract oil and minerals in remote regions of the Arctic.
Russia’s United Industrial Corporation said its floating reactor will go into operation in 2012 off the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East and will be used to help power Vilyuchinsk, a small city that serves as an atomic submarine base. The 472-foot plant will be built in the shape of a ship, will accommodate two 35-megawatt reactors, and will cost $316 million to construct, United Industrial said.
Nuclear power experts said that such floating reactors could be used to supply power to extractive industries in the Arctic as sea ice melts and Russia moves in to exploit oil, natural gas, and minerals. But putting reactors at sea, particularly in such an environmentally sensitive area as the Arctic, raises concerns about safety in extreme weather, disposal of radioactive waste produced by the reactors, and vulnerability to terrorism.
This article originally appeared on Yale Environment 360 at http://e360.yale.edu
[photo credit: flickr]