After an unsuccessful try at selling floating nuclear power stations all over the world, including to Indonesia and Cape Verde, Rosatom, the main nuclear operator in Russia, is now trying to tie up a deal with China.
Russia is currently finishing the construction of the Akademik Lomonosov, whose two adapted KLT-40 reactors run on 14,1% enriched uranium (just low enough to “make it unattractive for production of mass destruction weapons”). The reactors are to deliver 70 MW of electricity to the Siberian town of Vilyuchinsk. The reactor can be categorised as second generation. Not really the latest technology.
There has been one “floater” before in history: the US MH-1A mounted on an old Liberty barge called “Sturgis”, which provided the Panama canal zone with 10 MW electricity from 1968 to 1976. This was a one-loop pressurized water reactor that, after it was taken out of operation, received so much damage during a storm on its voyage back to the US that it needed structural repairs before it could go to its temporary mooring place in the James River outside Fort Eustis, Virginia.
Storms are, of course, a bit of a different risk for ships than for land-based nuclear power stations – who had thought of that? The fuel of the “Sturgis”was unloaded and now awaits some kind of final disposal in Oak Ridge… if there ever is some kind of final disposal, of course.
The ship itself will have to be dismantled in the coming four years in Galveston, Texas. That will be almost 40 years after it was taken out of operation!
One keeps wondering: why do engineers constantly come up with these kinds of ideas when there are suitable and clean alternatives? The floater looks like just another form of nuclear addiction.
Jan Haverkamp is nuclear expert consultant at Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe
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