Russia plans to tow nuclear power station to the Arctic despite environmental campaigners branding it a ‘floating Chernobyl’
- The Akademik Lomonosov has been dubbed ‘floating Chernobyl’ by its critics
- It has taken two years to build under Vladimir Putin’s Arctic expansion plans
- Russia is hoping to tap into the Arctic’s oil reserves as Siberian wells dry up
Russia plans to tow a floating nuclear power plant 3,000 miles through the arctic circle.
The Akademik Lomonosov, dubbed the ‘floating Chernobyl’ by its critics, has been under construction for almost two decades and is headed for the small Arctic port town of Pevek.
Currently based in Murmansk in Russia’s west, the enormous 144-meter (472 feet) long platform will eventually supply electricity to settlements and companies extracting hydrocarbons and precious stones in the Chukotka region.
Akademik Lomonosov being towed to the Russian northern port city of Murmansk in May this year
The huge power station was built under President Vladimir Putin’s ambitious Arctic expansion plans, which have riled US observers.
Putin has stated his intention to develop the region economically, tapping into the hidden Arctic riches of oil and gas as Siberian reserves diminish.
Only two million people currently live in the hostile region but they generate as much as 20% of country’s GDP.
Once in place, the Akademik Lomonosov will become the northernmost nuclear power station in the world.
Its installation has drawn criticism from environmentalists, however, who claim it represents a danger to the people who live there.
The Lomonosov platform was dubbed ‘Chernobyl on Ice’ or ‘floating Chernobyl’ by Greenpeace.
The enormous power station is intended to bring a more reliable source of energy to a remote Arctic region in Russia
The station’s owner Rosatom, the state company in charge of Russia’s nuclear projects, has hit back at criticism.
‘It’s totally not justified to compare these two projects. These are baseless claims, just the way the reactors themselves operate work is different,’ said Vladimir Iriminku, Lomonosov’s chief engineer.
‘Of course, what happened in Chernobyl cannot happen again…. And as it’s going to be stationed in the Arctic waters, it will be cooling down constantly, and there is no lack of cold water.’
The explosion at Chernobyl directly caused around 31 deaths, but millions of people were exposed to dangerous radiation levels.
The final death toll as a result of long-term radiation exposure is much disputed. Although the UN predicted up to 9,000 related cancer deaths back in 2005.
Greenpeace later estimated up to 200,000 fatalities, taking further health problems connected to the disaster into account.
Employees in a machinery room during installation and start-up works on the enormous station