Norway critical of Russian floating nuclear power plant

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-13 22:38:27|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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OSLO, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Norway is very critical of Russia's floating nuclear power plant that will travel along the Norwegian coast on its way from St. Petersburg to Murmansk next year, newspaper Aftenposten reported Tuesday.

The 144-meter-long, 30-meter-wide and 10-meter-high Akademik Lomonosov nuclear power plant has two turbine reactors and the capacity enough to supply a city with 200,000 people with power, announced Russian state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom.

Accoring to Aftenposten, the company will move the plant from the Baltic yard in St. Petersburg to Murmansk next spring or summer. The three to four-week trip will go via the Baltic Sea and the sea area Kattegat, following the entire Norwegian coast.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is very critical of the plans for moving of Akademik Lomonosov along the Norwegian coast. For Norwegian authorities, it is crucial to have close dialogue with the Russian authorities on security and preparedness, and there are many unanswered questions related to these plans," said Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Borge Brende.

He added that the sea areas which would be affected "are very vulnerable and that a possible accident can therefore have major consequences."

Brende confirmed to Aftenposten that the topic was also raised among the Nordic foreign ministers at a meeting in Oslo in late May.

"There was coherence in the critical attitude and there is agreement to follow this up with Russia, also in the Nordic context. We will re-raise the matter during a meeting of the Norwegian-Russian nuclear safety commission in Kirkenes in late June," he said.

The Norwegian radiation protection authority and the Coastal administration are now planning emergency preparedness with colleagues in all the Nordic countries.

The worst scenarios would be fire on board, sinking fleet or that the trail goes to pieces to bottom of the Norwegian archipelago, Aftenposten wrote.

"What we have learned from the Russian side is that the nuclear power plant should be shut down after a test run in St. Petersburg. During the journey north, therefore, there will be nuclear fuel on board. This makes the freight far more risky for the environment than if it had only unused fuels," said Per Strand, director of the Norwegian radiation protection authority.

According to Rosatom, Academy Lomonosov will be equipped with 179 kilograms of uranium-235. The towing will happen in spring or summer to avoid strong winds. The fleet with the nuclear power plant has no propeller or self-propelled power and is completely dependent on assistance from a tugboat.

According to Johan Marius Ly, head of department and chief of preparedness at the Coastal Administration, Norwegians should on their side point out suitable emergency ports, as Russians have indicated that the drag will be difficult to implement if the wind speed exceeds 15 meters per second.

"If you plan a tow that will take place over four weeks in May, June, July or August, it is almost unlikely to avoid wind power above 15 meters per second. It is very common with such winds along our coast, even in the summer months," said Reidun G. Skaland, researcher at the climate service department at the Meteorological Institute.

According to Aftenposten, it has not yet been determined which locations are relevant as emergency ports.

After a stay at a shipyard near Murmansk, Akademik Lomonosov will be towed the long road to Russia's northernmost city, Pevek in Tsjukotka.

Rosatom's plan is that the two floating nuclear reactors aboard the fleet will replace the aging Bilibino nuclear power plant. The world's northernmost nuclear power plant was founded in 1974 and is located in the administrative center of the autonomous region of Tsjukotka in Siberia.

It is calculated that Akademik Lomonosov will have a life span of approximately 40 years. Every 12 years, the fleet must be traced back from Siberia to Rosatom in Murmansk for service and repairs.