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With Alaska’s permission and the most elaborate science fiction fantasies, the last frontier is in the Arctic. The thaw brought by global warming has sparked the interest of the countries of the region for resources, and others who can take advantage of the trade route that could open up in the north of the planet. But first you have to create infrastructure, which is what Russia is doing. The last one is a floating nuclear station, the Academician Lomonosov, which Moscow sent last year to the shores of Chukotka and which has just been fully operational.
According to the Rosenergoatom consortium, which is part of the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom, the platform went into commercial operation on May 22, after receiving all the necessary permits. Now is when the project can be considered “successfully completed,” said its CEO, Andrei Petrov. It is “the eleventh nuclear power plant that is industrially exploited in Russia, as well as the northernmost in the world,” he explained.
The atomic ship, named Academician Lomonósov in honor of the eighteenth-century Russian sage, has been a controversial project since its construction began in 2006. Environmental organizations believe it is a threat to the fragile Arctic ecosystem.
Greenpeace has called it “the floating Chernobyl” or “the nuclear Titanic”. And they point out that in addition to nuclear waste and the possibility of an accident, it can also be hit by storms. The Bellona environmental foundation, which monitors the environment in the Arctic, said in 2011 that a tsunami could throw such structures against the coast. Rosatom assures that it cannot sink, even if a tsunami like the one that caused the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011 occurs, since it has a system of buttresses. It also rejects any comparison with the 1986 disaster in Chernobyl (today Ukraine).
The Russian company saw in a floating station a good alternative to a conventional plant. In addition to becoming a key element in the infrastructure of the new northern shipping route, it was easier to build than one on land, as it is frozen most of the year.
It was built near Saint Petersburg and in 2018 it was towed to Murmansk. In that arctic city it was completed and in August 2019 he began his last trip. In December of last year he got to where he is today, the city of Pevek, and plugged into ground power generation structures. The plan is to replace the obsolete Bilíbino nuclear power plant and the old Chaunsk thermal power plant, and to be Chukotka’s main source of energy.
This is the only floating nuclear power plant in the world. But not the first. The United States Navy reconditioned in 1961 an old freighter with a nuclear reactor, the MH-1A Sturgis, which supplied power to the Panama Canal between 1968 and 1973. The project ended in 1976 when the ship was scrapped.
Source: La Patilla