On Friday, three tugs will tow the Akademik Lomonosov barge out of Murmansk to begin a 5,000km voyage to a remote port on the other side of Russia’s Arctic coast, and in the process send waves through the nuclear energy sector. The vessel is a floating nuclear reactor, a portable power plant designed to supply electricity to areas disconnected from the grid, and envisaged by Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom as the future of small-scale nuclear power with an eye on export opportunities in developing countries. But the two-reactor Lomonosov, which took a decade to design and build, has sparked safety fears and concerns over the environmental impact of any mishap, amid concern over a botched nuclear missile test this month at a military site close to Murmansk that released a radiation spike in a nearby city. Rosatom insists the unit is safe, and “virtually unsinkable” in case of natural disasters. The plant will also be guarded by the Russian guard, Moscow’s internal military force.
FT 21st Aug 2019 read more »