The four planned stations will be worth $850 million when they are fully operational within the next five years.
The plan is to station the floating plants in Yakutia.
Rosatom, the state owned nuclear corporation, has already signed an agreement to have the four floating nuclear power stations built along its coastal areas on the Arctic Ocean.
When the four plants begin operation between 2012 and 2015 they will employ at least 470 people per plant.
The stations would provide power to Gazprom, the oil firm which is also Russia’s biggest company. According to the Guardian the floating plants would be able to store their own waste and fuel needing servicing only once in every 12 to 14 years.
A prototype is being built at the SevMash shipyard in Severodvinsk. It should be compled in 2010.
“This project will allow us to cut down on fuel import costs and to increase the quality and reliability of electricity production, thereby meeting the demands of Yakutia’s growing industries,” a spokesman for the Yakutia Republic’s administration said.
Environmental groups and nuclear experts are warning that the floating plants are more vulnerable to accidents and terrorism than plants that are on solid ground. The experts have also pointed out nuclear accidents that have happened within Russia, the most notable Chernobyl.
Times Online reports:
“There is so little infrastructure in these remote areas that it will be very difficult to control the plants if something goes wrong. It will also be difficult to maintain a full cohort of engineers,” Nils Boehmer, an expert on Russia’s nuclear industry at Bellona, a Norwegian environmental group, told The Times.
“There will be a risk of hijack and terrorist attack because it is much harder to secure floating facilities. The security services in Russia have done exercises on nuclear-powered ice-breakers and found that it is very easy to take control of them.”
Another concern is the history of the Russian navy. In 2000 the Kursk nuclear submarine sank in the Barents Sea after a torpedo exploded on board. The crew of 18 were lost in the accident.
The former head of the Russian nuclear inspectorate, Vladimir Kuznetsov co-authored a report on floating nuclear plants that concluded that the vessels were “inherently unsafe”.
Times Online quotes Kutnetsov:
“There is a clear danger of nuclear proliferation if these plants are sold to other countries. There is also a very high risk of terrorist attack,” he said.
In the past five years Russia, Norway, Denmark, Canada and the United States have all claimed large areas of the Arctic.
The Guardian reports:
According to a new report by the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum, Russia is considering other nuclear plants for power-hungry settlements. “The locations that have been discussed include 33 towns in the Russian far north and far east. Such plants could be also used to supply energy for oil and gas extraction,” says the report by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme.