Moscow, 23 August 2019 (dpa/MIA) – Russia launched the world’s first nuclear power plant on board a ship in the Arctic port city of Murmansk on Friday, the state nuclear corporation Rosatom announced.
The Akademik Lomonosov, named after 18th-century Russian scientist Mikhail Lomonosov, headed to the far-eastern Arctic port town of Pevek to take over electricity production for two regional power plants being decommissioned.
The ship has the “potential to work particularly well in regions with extended coastlines, power supply shortages and limited access to electrical grids,” Rosatom said in a statement.
The power plant has the capacity to operate for three to five years without refuelling, said the company, which already specializes in production of nuclear-powered ice breakers for far-northern waterways.
The Akademik Lomonosov is “especially suited to very remote areas and island states that require stable, green sources of energy,” the company said.
Significant interest in the technology has come from the Middle East, North Africa and South-East Asia, the company said.
Environmental activists have criticized the project for posing a risk that could result in a disaster akin to “Chernobyl on ice.” The Arctic region’s remoteness and climatic conditions could hinder a cleanup operation.
“This is a very risky technology,” said Vladimir Slivyak of the environmental organization Ecodefense. “In an accident, radiation could be released into the sea.”
Russia has undergone two fatal nuclear-related accidents this year: a fire aboard a nuclear-powered submarine and an explosion during a test of an experimental engine. Both incidents occurred in the far north.
Rosatom has attested to safety of the Akademik Lomonosov, reporting that the facility has been approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The floating nuclear power plant is the “only feasible way to reduce the Arctic‘s dependency on coal” and thus reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the company said in a statement.