Russia's 'Floating Chernobyl' Planned For Arctic Circle

The Akademik Lomonosov is a floating nuclear power plant designed by the Russians and is set to supply power to the Arctic Circle next month. Critics of the endeavor have dubbed the Akademik Lomonosov a "floating Chernobyl."

According to CNN, the plan for the Akademik Lomonosov is the "bring electric power to a mineral-rich region" by launching it in the Arctic Circle. After two decades of developing and building the floating nuclear power plant, Russia plans to tow it via the Northern Sea Route to the Arctic Circle next month.

The 144-meter-long (472 feet) power plant will be painted in the Russian flag colors and is destined for the Arctic port town of Pevek, situated 4,000 miles from Moscow. The aim of the floating power plant is to supply electricity to the Chukotka region as they mine for hydrocarbons and precious stones.

As the ice melts in the Arctic Circle, it is being opened up for development by Russia. However, other countries, such as the U.S., also see this region as a viable economic option. While Russia, a region that backs directly onto a part of the Arctic Circle, sees this endeavor as a great way to generate power to remote regions as President Vladimir Putin aims for an Arctic expansion, the U.S. has voiced concerns. Previously, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been critical of both Russia and China's involvement with economic development in the Arctic Circle, according to another article by CNN.

As many as 2 million Russians live in the area, which is a location so remote that often it is at the whim of the weather as to whether or not it can be accessed by plane or ship. Regardless of its isolation, it is believed that as much as 20 percent of Russia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is sourced from this location.

As a result of this isolation, Russia sees the Akademik Lomonosov as a viable means of supplying electricity to the region. Considering how inhospitable the land is in the Arctic Circle, a floating nuclear power plant fills the demand for power without the complications associated with trying to build a full power plant in the region.

Of course, environmentalists believe a floating nuclear power plant in the region is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. Organizations such as Greenpeace have dubbed the Akademik Lomonosov a "floating Chernobyl" or "Chernobyl on ice." Furthermore, this was long before the renewed interest in Chernobyl, thanks to HBO's limited miniseries based on the disaster that occurred in 1986. However, Vladimir Iriminku, Lomonosov's chief engineer for environmental protection, disagrees with the critics.

"It's totally not justified to compare these two projects. These are baseless claims, just the way the reactors themselves operate work is different. Of course, what happened in Chernobyl cannot happen again... And as it's going to be stationed in the Arctic waters, it will be cooling down constantly, and there is no lack of cold water."