Russia Builds Floating Nuclear Plant – Is This Safe?

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

[photo credit: flickr]

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4 comments on “Russia Builds Floating Nuclear Plant – Is This Safe?

Kringle, A Corporation Sole

I’m pretty sure there are a number of examples of floating nuclear reactors available from the US Navy…


Russian, US, British, French ships and submarines carry nuclear reactors for decades. A few more for peaceful purposes wont make big difference


The Russians have had small, mobile nuclear plants on rail car (trains) for years. This isn’t really anything new.

I am a bit doubtful on this project. Two reactors for 70 MW ? To what I know nuclear reactors can have 1.3 GW of capacity.

For such little capacity needed, Russia could have done on natural gas or else.

Even if I have no problem with nuclear by itself, Russian nuclear gives me shivers. Chernobyl anyone ?

But to be fair, I am sure that since then safety and technology have improved a lot.

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