Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Nuclear Titanic?

I am no specialist in "energy" issues, but what was labeled in the West (of course) a Nuclear Titanic (or Floating Chernobyl, if one prefers), still departed to sea and eventually should be towed to Vilyuchinsk on Kamchatka. 

Yet, no matter what one says--and to be sure many "environmentalists" are going apoplectic in the West and in Russia--Akademik Lomonosov floating Nuclear Power Station is an incredible feat of real hi-tech engineering. 

Displacing 21,500 tons, this "barge" is capable of providing electric energy for the cities with population of up to 200,000 people. Vilyuchinsk (aka Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky-50) being the main base of Russia's Pacific Fleet nuclear submarines (in reality it is Rybachyi which is right across Vilyuchinsk) seems a natural place for it, even in a purely dramatic sense, the town is stuffed with nuclear power and propulsion to the hilt anyway and will continue to see new arrivals of nuclear powered submarines in the near future. Two of Borey-class (project 955) strategic missile submarines are already based there, more are coming, including newest Yasen-class (project 885) SSGNs and modernized Oscars (project 949A) all getting there.  In general, Russia's Far East will need more energy, especially for cities growing along the coast and this type of energy supply seems very convenient. 

Of course, once one speaks about Kamchatka, one should always remember that it is a very seismic area (I can confirm that first hand) and some parts facing Pacific of this huge peninsula are known to be subjected to tsunamis, some of them very large. But Vilyuchinsk, together with Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky didn't see a serious tsunami, even with consideration of a couple big ones, earthquakes, striking Petropavlovsk in 1970s, for many decades. In fact--centuries for Petropavlovsk. Krasheninnikov Bay also seems to offer good protection. And then, of course, as tragic experience with Kursk demonstrated--Kursk's reactors automatically shut down, upon catastrophe unfolding, as was designed. In this sense Lomonosov's reactors safety is way better than of any land-built nuclear power station, especially in seismic areas, and especially so incompetently, if not negligently, engineered as was the case with Fukushima. So, we will see if this historic first will turn out to be a Nuclear Titanic or will simply work for many years as a reliable source of energy for future settlements along the coastline.  

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