Will floating nuclear power plants become the targets of terrorists?
The head of the Ministry for Nuclear Power, Alexander Rumyantsev, approved of the technical project of a vessel to be equipped with nuclear power generators for an electric power plant of low capacity.
The world’s first floating nuclear power plant will be constructed in the city of Severodvinsk (the Arkhangelsk region). It will be finished by the 2008. Sevmash Enterprise, which specializes in the construction of military submarines, will build a special vessel for the floating nuclear power plant. The vessel will be equipped with a power-generating unit with a capacity of 70 Megawatts per hour. The Russian nuclear giant Rosenergoatom is going to build no less than two floating nuclear power plants for the Arkhangelsk region. Each will cost $100-120 million.
The project has been approved of by the independent ecological expertise. About 150 Severodvinsk residents took part in its discussion: students of St. Petersburg Technical University, ecology specialists, ect. The project is allegedly ecologically safe. Ecologist V.I. Vashchenko commented on the issue:
“We conducted a preliminary estimation of the documents about the floating nuclear power plant project. The project considers the influence of radioactive wastes both on the workers of the Sevmash Enterprise and on the rest of the city’s residents. The documented data allowed us to come to the conclusion that harm from the floating nuclear power plant will be minimum. I can verify this fact as an ecologist. Residents should know that the project of the nuclear station was totally approved of by ecological and other controlling units.”
Russia's major sources of energy are basically heating and hydroelectric power stations. Nuclear plants generate about 15% of all energy produced. In America, the number is 39%. In France, it is manufactures about 70%. However, one should not discount alternative sources of energy such as wind power. The heating and electric station of Severodvinsk operates with the help of coal, which contains a large quantity of natural radionuclids, particularly, radium 226. When they burn, they become concentrated, harming the local population (those people are close to a source of ionizing radiation).
The harm of a floating nuclear power plant will be a lot less than that of coal-powered plants. If the future nuclear power plant works at full capacity, then the entire dose of the radiation will be 15 times less in comparison with the same index of a heating and electric power plant. In other words, the nuclear power will 15 times safer.
There is also another relevant issue: a large number of premature deaths. The use of nuclear power implies only one premature death during the entire operation of the station (40 years) vs. 280 incidents every year with the use of a coal-powered plant. About 17 thousand tons of soot “fall” down on the people of the Arkhangelsk region every year because of the use of coal.
The station to be built by the Sevmash Enterprise is going to be the main one. The floating nuclear power plant in Severodvinsk will be accessible to the public. Any investor will be able to go there and see everything with his own eyes.
The project stipulates fivefold radiation safety, whereas the norm requires double safety ( Chernobyl nuclear power plant). This level of security is meant to avoid any kind of breakdown both inside and outside the plant (earthquake, plane crash, and so on). It will be possible to store the spent fuel for 12 years.
Nevertheless, not all ecologists rejoice in the nuclear future of the city. Many publications of the ecological site www.bellona.ru attempt to prove the harm that will be caused. It was particularly written that the floating nuclear power plants will bring much more harm to the nature than nuclear subs.
The Russian ecological organization Green Cross and the Center of Ecological Politics of Russia wrote a detailed report pertaining to the floating nuclear power plants of Russia and threats that they pose to the ocean. The report was signed by respectable ecologists and nuclear scientists (both Russian and foreign). The scientists came to the conclusion that the floating nuclear power plants will be dangerous from an ecological point of view. It was also added that they will not be profitable from an economic point of view either. According to scientists’ opinion, the floating nuclear power plants will lead to the considerable expansion of opportunities to produce materials needed for the development of nuclear weapons. These plants could also become objects of international nuclear blackmail and terrorism.
Vitaly Bratkov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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