Floating nuclear plant

Published: Monday 30 April 2001

russia has started the construction of world's first floating nuclear plant despite concerns about its safety. The plant, being built near Severodvinsk situated on Russia's northwestern coast, will be operative by 2001. According to the country's energy ministry, the floating plant would initially provide 60 megawatts of energy to the 170,000 people of Severodvinsk. The construction will be completed within five years. The main reason for building the plant is the cost-effectiveness of being able to tow it to wherever needed.

Energy specialists assert that such a plant will be hazardous. "The Severodvinsk plant's position is not safe as it is located only a few hundred metres from a nearby residential area. The waves will make it unstable," said Thomas Nilsen, a researcher of Bellona, a non-governmental organisation that finds solutions to nuclear waste problems. Two us -based organisations, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Federation of American Scientists, have also expressed doubts about the project. Nilsen said that the Russians see nuclear power as the only solution for this region's energy crisis, but there are abundant resources of natural gas in nearby areas as well as opportunities for using bioenergy.

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