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China and Russia plan to cover the oceans with floating nuclear power plants

Scorpio

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Opinion: China and Russia plan to cover the oceans with floating nuclear power plants
By Jurica Dujmovic
Published: Jan 21, 2016 11:05 a.m. ET



And the big problem: Human memory is short, even when it comes to disasters


China General Nuclear


China expects to complete a floating nuclear reactor by 2020 and has plans to build 100 more by 2030.
In an effort to become the largest exporter of nuclear-energy technology, China has started building a reactor housed in a floating vessel, which is scheduled to be finished by 2020. If that sounds alarming, brace yourself: More than 100 additional nuclear reactors are planned for the next decade.

The idea behind this “micro” 200-megawatt reactor (1 megawatt can power 1,000 homes) was to create a mobile energy source for offshore oil and gas exploration, as well as provide electricity, heating, and facilitate desalination for islands and coastal areas.


I don’t know about you, but this certainly gets my Geiger counter beeping with unease. While some dismiss the danger, saying floating nuclear reactors aren’t all that dangerous — nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers basically fit that description — the truth remains that it’s still a freaking nuclear reactor. History taught us the price we have to pay every time “highly unlikely” disasters happen, and now that another 100 of these will be built in the coming decade, the likelihood of yet another nuclear disaster will increase.


A grim foreshadowing of what might happen is the horrific explosion at a chemical-storage facility in Chinese port Tianjin, where a blast eerily similar to a nuclear explosion took place in August. The accident killed 173 and injured 797, both from the shocking blast and the hazardous material that rained down on the area.


The explosion generated seismic shock waves with an energy equivalent of 21 tons of TNT.

The Chinese government did its best to cover up the disaster, silencing local and foreign journalists. Now imagine if it were a floating nuclear reactor. Nothing would change, apart from more dire consequences and even more censorship.

Also looking to join the fun in the radioactive sun is Russia’s Akademik Lomonosov. This floating nuclear power plant will be ready for deployment in October. It’s going to be used to power port cities, industrial infrastructure, and oil and gas drilling rigs and refineries, which, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, will prove to be a great asset in Arctic exploration. The ship is 144 meters long with two reactors capable of producing 70 megawatts of electricity.




Russia’s Akademik Lomonosov floating nuclear power plant.
Although they have their fair share of nuclear “mishaps,” the Russians are kicking their nuclear efforts up a notch: Akademik Lomonosov is only the first of many floating nuclear power plants that will be built. Vessels will also be available to rent. So far, 15 countries have shown interest in having these power plants for their own use.

Here’s where things get scary: Imagine that out of hundreds of these floating nuclear power plants, just a dozen or so become targeted by terrorists or a military force. Regardless of the scenario, the resulting tragedy would be felt worldwide.

Of course, I could be wrong. Perhaps we’re ushering in a sort of a nuclear renaissance, an age in which nuclear energy really proves to be a safer and better solution than fossil-fuel sources.

But I doubt it. Humanity has proven that it understands the dangers of something only when the worst has already happened, and even then just for a brief while. Consider this chart:

Wikipedia


You can thank the Chernobyl disaster for 20 years of stagnation (1986-2006) during which time fewer nuclear power plants were built. In 2007, however, humanity tried its luck with nuclear energy again. Following a short increase, we saw yet another decline in 2011. Why? You guessed it: That was the year of the Fukushima disaster, and it took the world less than five years to forget the effects of the meltdown. It’s time for another adventure!

But what of Fukushima? As of 2013, the site in Japan remained highly radioactive, with some 160,000 evacuees still living in temporary housing, and tracts of land that will likely remain unsuitable for farming for centuries. The difficult cleanup job will take 40 years or longer to complete, and will cost tens of billions of dollars. Following the disaster, Japan shut down 54 nuclear power plants.

We’ve seen what happens when things go awry with just one nuclear power plant. Now, with hundreds in the making, will we live long enough to finally learn from our mistakes? Let’s hope so.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ch...with-floating-nuclear-power-plants-2016-01-21
 

brosil

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#2
Ya pay your money and ya makes your choice. Want large amounts of electricity? Burn something or use a nuke to spin a turbine. Of course, you could put more dams on the rivers. How about a lot more windmills and solar panels? Choose.
 

Professur

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It's worth noting that Russia still hasn't gotten Chernobyl sealed and safe yet.
 

Buck

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Neither China nor Russia are interested in one of these things failing, that's just absurd

I think its a great idea as long as security remains a number one priority

What I don't like is all the nuke material it's going to take to run one of these. What are they going to do with the spent fuel, jettison it overboard? Who's going to track that material and make sure it's gone overboard and not into the hands of Jihad Abdul?
 

Aurumag

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#6
Is the floating vessel still a containment vessel upon capsizing?
 

Joe King

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Are they thorium reactors? If not, they should be.