Sunday, May 03, 2009

Iggy's Arctic Dreamland

Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff has a dream - a dream of a pan-Arctic park, a pristine nature enclave where the habitat and ecology of the Arctic will be preserved. Where he came up with that silly idea is anyone's guess. Perhaps he hadn't heard that Russia had already launched the first in what's supposed to be a fleet of ice breaker/supertankers being built specifically to help exploit the massive energy reserves believed to lie beneath the Arctic Ocean floor.

Before Mike wastes more time daydreaming about Arctic parks, maybe he should read The Guardian. It's reporting on Russia's plans to build 'a fleet' of floating and submersible nuclear power plants to exploit Arctic oil and gas reserves. That's 'submersible' as in underwater as in underwater nuclear power plants Mike.

A prototype floating nuclear power station being constructed at the SevMash shipyard in Severodvinsk is due to be completed next year. Agreement to build a further four was reached between the Russian state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, and the northern Siberian republic of Yakutiya in February.

The 70-megawatt plants, each of which would consist of two reactors on board giant steel platforms, would provide power to Gazprom, the oil firm which is also Russia's biggest company. It would allow Gazprom to power drills needed to exploit some of the remotest oil and gas fields in the world in the Barents and Kara seas. The self-propelled vessels would store their own waste and fuel and would need to be serviced only once every 12 to 14 years.

In addition, designers are known to have developed submarine nuclear-powered drilling rigs that could allow eight wells to be drilled at a time.

The British paper notes that Russia has a history of nuclear dumping in the Arctic Ocean.

Countries including Britain have had to offer Russia billions of dollars to decommission more than 160 nuclear submarines, but at least 12 nuclear reactors are known to have been dumped, along with more than 5,000 containers of solid and liquid nuclear waste, on the northern coast and on the island of Novaya Zemlya.

Let's see - oil drilling, gas drilling, seabed mining and nuclear power plants. What more could you want in a nature park? Oh yeah, I know. A permanent Russian Arctic military force would be the icing on the cake. What? They're organizing that too? Oh my.

1 comment:

JimBobby said...

Whooee! This Russky plan for submersible NPP's is about as scary as it gets. The 70 Mw capacity is low by nuke power plant standards. That's about the only good thing.

BTW, in the pot/kettle department, France and the UK both routinely dump radioactive waste from their nuclear fuel reprocessing plants into the sea. Traces of radioactive waste from Sellafield (UK) and La Hague (France) have been found in the Arctic Ocean. The EU has been urging France and Britain to cease and desist with teh ocean dumping but to no avail.