Vienna, Austria – As Russia’s state-run corporation Rosatom prepares to celebrate the arrival of its first purpose-built floating nuclear power plant in the Arctic city of Murmansk, campaigners are warning of threats to people and nature and calling for a full environmental impact assessment and independent nuclear oversight.
The controversial Akademik Lomonosov barge, dubbed ‘nuclear Titanic’ by some, arrived in Murmansk today where it will be loaded with nuclear fuel and tested. The Rosatom welcoming party is scheduled to take place on 19 May.
“It is now that one of the riskiest parts of the project begins,” said Jan Haverkamp, nuclear expert with Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe.
“The barge will be fuelled and tested near a city of 300,000 people, then towed with two reactors full of irradiated fuel along the Northern Sea Route. Its installation in the harsh environment of the Russian Arctic will pose a constant threat to people of the North and the pristine Arctic nature,” he added.
Greenpeace CEE together with Russian environmental organisations Ecodefense and Russian Socio-Ecological Union (Friends of the Earth Russia) has sent a letter to Rosatom and relevant authorities demanding full and unrestricted regulatory oversight by the Russian nuclear regulator Rostechnadzor, with peer-review by nuclear regulators from other Arctic countries, as well as a transboundary Arctic Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
“The incident-ridden history of Russian nuclear icebreakers and submarines shows the need for strict, independent oversight with international peer review. This must start now, before the reactors are loaded, and span the plant’s entire risky operation – including transport, decommissioning and waste management,” said Haverkamp.
Initial plans to load and test the floating nuclear plant in the centre of St. Petersburg were abandoned after pressure from Nordic and Baltic countries and a public petition organised by Greenpeace Russia. While being towed to Murmansk, the barge was escorted and peacefully protested in Danish waters by the Greenpeace Ship Beluga II.
In 2019, the Akademik Lomonosov will be towed 5,000 km through the Northern Sea Route and put to use near Pevek, in Russia’s Chukotka Region.
According to Russian media, 15 countries, including China, Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Argentina and Sudan, have shown interest in hiring floating nuclear plants that – among other purposes – are intended to provide power for fossil fuel exploration.
 The letter was sent today to the acting Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, the CEO of Rosatom, the chairperson of the Russian nuclear regulator Rostechnadzor and the international cooperation body for the Arctic, the Arctic Council.
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Jan Haverkamp, nuclear expert, Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe: +31 621 334 619, email@example.com
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Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours), email@example.com