Russia’s ‘nuclear titanic’ sets off for Swedish coast

A Russian power plant dubbed a “nuclear Titanic” by environmental campaigners set off on Saturday on its way to Sweden’s Baltic coast.

Russia's 'nuclear titanic' sets off for Swedish coast
The Akademik Lomonosov nuclear power station sets off from St Petersburg on Saturday. Photo: Dmitri Lovetsky/TT/AP
Akademik Lomonosov, the world’s first floating nuclear power plant, left the Baltic Shipyard in St Petersburg on Saturday morning.
It is expected to reach the Swedish coast next week, before making its way through the narrow Öresund straits, across the Kattegat and into the North Sea. 
“We are following this closely through our cooperation with other countries and through our own national agencies,” Johan Friberg, Director of the Swedish Radiation Safety Agency told Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT
Russia’s development of a floating nuclear power plant has generated alarm among its Nordic neighbours, with Norway’s foreign minister Børge Brende last June warning that the plan to transport it fully fuelled raised “serious questions”. 
Karolina Skog, Sweden’s environment minister, argued last June that floating nuclear power stations created “a new type of risk”. 
“It is important that Russia makes every effort to fulfil the criteria of international agreements, which should be seen as applying to floating nuclear power stations as well,” she said.  
After a meeting in Moscow that July, Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom relented on its plans to drag the reactor through the Baltic fuelled, saying that the plant would instead be fuelled in Murmansk after it had arrived in the Russian Arctic. 
“We will carry out the transportation through the Baltic and the Scandinavian region without nuclear fuel on board,” Alexey Likhachev told the Independent Barents Observer.  
Jan Haverkamp, nuclear expert for Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe, has attacked the plant as a ‘nuclear Titanic’, and “threat to the Arctic” 
“Nuclear reactors bobbing around the Arctic Ocean will pose a shockingly obvious threat to a fragile environment which is already under enormous pressure from climate change,” he said in a press release
After the plant is fuelled and tested, it will be pulled across to Pevek on the Eastern Siberian Sea, where it will be used to power oil rigs. 

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Concerns for Vattenfall’s Russian energy deal

State-owned Swedish energy giant Vattenfall has come under fire for its decision to buy Russian nuclear fuels despite the wishes of the EU to minimize the dependency on Russian energy.

Concerns for Vattenfall's Russian energy deal

The news comes as Vattenfall gets set to receive test samples of a new kind of nuclear fuel from Russian energy company Rosatom, reported the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

The fuel is to be tested at the Ringhals nuclear power plant in western Sweden and delivery can begin as early as 2020 if the results are promising, according to Torbjörn Wahlborg, head of Vattenfall’s nuclear power division.

The news has not been well-received around Sweden.

“We think there is a strong security policy aspect to all this, and it appears Vattenfall has not taken this into account,” Peter Hultqvist, chairman of the Parliamentary Defense Committee, told the TT news agency.

He added that he would be putting the matter to Sweden’s Defence Minister Karin Enström, to ascertain whether she considered the developments to be “reasonable”.

“There are examples of when energy has been used as a leverage. We saw this, for example, in Ukraine a number of years ago,” he added.

Rosatom has export licenses for five EU countries, Bulgaria, Finland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, and as far as China and India, an export worth an annual $3 billion, wrote TT.

The company has been behind the construction of ten nuclear reactors in Russia alone, with a further 19 planned for outside the country’s borders, including in Iran.

The EU, meanwhile, is aiming to decrease the dependence on gas and oil from Russia.

“Russia uses energy politics as an instrument for foreign and safety policy,” Jakob Hedenskog, researcher at the Swedish Defence Research Agency (Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut – FOI), told SvD.

TT/The Local/og

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