Environmentalists fear pollution risk as firms try to exploit ocean's untapped oil and gas reserves
May 4 2009
Russia is planning a fleet of floating and submersible nuclear power stations to exploit Arctic oil and gas reserves, causing widespread alarm among environmentalists.
A prototype floating nuclear power station being
constructed at the SevMash shipyard in
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
In addition, designers are known to have developed submarine nuclear-powered drilling rigs that could allow eight wells to be drilled at a time.
a leading Scandinavian environmental watchdog group, yesterday condemned the
idea of using nuclear power to open the
"It is highly risky. The risk of a nuclear accident on a floating power plant is increased. The plants' potential impact on the fragile Arctic environment through emissions of radioactivity and heat remains a major concern. If there is an accident, it would be impossible to handle," said Igor Kudrik, a spokesman.
Environmentalists also fear that
if additional radioactive waste is produced, it will be dumped into the sea.
The US Geological Survey believes
the Arctic holds up to 25% of the world's undiscovered oil and gas reserves,
leading some experts to call the region the next
Last week, ministers from many Arctic countries heard scientists and former US vice-president and Nobel prize winner Al Gore say that the Arctic could be free of ice in the summer within five years, with drastic consequences for the world's climate and human health.
But many countries bordering the
Arctic see climate change as the chance to exploit areas that were once
inaccessible and to open trade routes between the Pacific and
According to a new report by the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental