Greenpeace protests against the launch of fueling of a nuclear power plant inside the city of St. Petersburg

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Feature story - 6 February, 2017
Greenpeace Russia has filed a request to the Head of the Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Supervision to check the legality of loading of nuclear fuel into the reactors of the floating nuclear power in St. Petersburg.

The floating nuclear power plant “Academician Lomonosov” will get its two reactors fueled at the Baltic Shipyard in the center of St. Petersburg, Russia's second biggest city. The shipyard has confirmed such plans to the Rosbalt news agency. Greenpeace is concerned that if Rosatom runs this dangerous operation it will break the current legislation and will put five million residents of the city at risk.

The floating nuclear power plant that is being built in St Petersburg, is a new experimental vessel. Its environmental impact assessment and licensing procedures must take into account that the barge would become a nuclear power plant not at its final destination, in Pevek in Chukotka in the Russian Far East, but in St Petersburg.

Loading nuclear fuel into the reactors in St Petersburg should not be possible without an environmental impact assessment of siting and construction of the floating NPP and public hearings in the city, as well as a state environmental assessment of the project and other necessary procedures, which could prove that loading of nuclear fuel within the city is too risky. Moreover, decision to have a dangerous radioactive object in the city, even temporarily, should be approved by requires a decision of the Russian government supported by the St. Petersburg governor. According to the information that Greenpeace has, none of these procedures have been followed.

"For quite a long time, Rosatom has been negotiating the sales of floating NPPs outside Russia. And this project is considered important not just for Russia's Chukotka. We think that the corporation wants to have a working model to demonstrate it to potential customers abroad," says Rashid Alimov, nuclear campaigner with Greenpeace Russia.

"Greenpeace opposes the very concept of a floating nuclear power plant as unacceptably dangerous, Alimov stresses. Experts say that in the event of an accident with a release of radioactivity, vast areas can get contaminated. It has been proved by the operating experience of vessel reactors. However, in case of floating nuclear power plants, piracy and terrorism add to the usual list of risks of natural hazards as earthquakes and tsunamis. If a floating NPP gets in the hands of criminals they would get hold of a significant amount of highly enriched uranium, and a chance for nuclear blackmail".

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