As if Russia’s recent record on social issues (like new homophobic legislation) and civil liberties (like the crackdown on Pussy Riot) weren’t bad enough, the Putin regime is now looking at another area to wreak potential havoc on: the environment.
The Environment News Service reports that Russia is currently setting up its first floating nuclear plant that will be ready to go in 2016. What is a floating nuclear plant exactly? Renderings show a massive ship named the Akademik Lomonosov that could be towed around around the country’s coastal areas offering "energy, heat and water to remote and arid areas of the country" like the Arctic region—enough juice to power a city of 200,000 people.
The problem, of course, is what happens if the ships crash. It wouldn’t be the first time that happened in Russia.
As ENS reminds us:
Those with historical memories will recall accidents with a Soviet-era nuclear icebreaker that released radioactivity into the environment.
Launched in 1957, the "Lenin," the USSR’s first nuclear powered icebreaker, was powered by three OK-150 reactors. In February 1965, there was a loss of coolant incident, and some of the fuel elements melted or deformed inside reactor number two. The debris was removed and stored for two years, and subsequently dumped in Tsivolki Bay near Novaia Zemlia.
This time around, though, Russian officials say disaster is impossible:
The Baltiskii Zavod shipyard stresses that The "Academician Lomonosov" and its successors are all designed with a safety margin exceeding all possible threats, which makes their nuclear reactors invulnerable to tsunamis and other natural disasters. They shipyard claims the ships meet all the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency and do not pose a threat to the environment.
The shipyard plans to begin mass production soon, and 15 countries including China, Algeria, and Namibia, have shown interest in the floating nuclear power plants, which sounds like a recipe for disaster. It’s always a good sign when you claim that disaster is impossible.