Russia’s floating nuclear power plant is not dangerous for ecology

Rosatom’s floating NPP (FNPP), the Akademik Lomonosov, moored at the city of Pevek in Russia’s Chukotka Autonomous Okrug was visited on 12 October by a public expedition led by Alexey Yekidin, a leading researcher at the Institute of Industrial Ecology of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The expedition included ecologists, academics, and representatives of public associations. Participants were tasked with collecting and analysing data on the environmental and radiation safety of the FNPP, as well as assessing the plant and its overall operation and communicating their findings to the public.

The environmentalists carried out measurements both at the station itself and in the surrounding area, as well as in the city of Pevek. Their findings showed that background radiation in both the vicinity of the plant and in the city of Pevek was attributable exclusively to natural sources and that the average value of did not exceed 0.12μSv/h in either location.

“More than 20 measurements were taken in the FNPP’s industrial area, as well as in the surrounding area and in the city of Pevek, and no artificial radionuclides were found at the surveyed sites,” said Yekidin. “It has, therefore, been concluded that the operation of the floating nuclear power plant does not negatively impact the region’s radioecological situation.”

Alan Khasiev, chairman of the coordinating council of the interregional public environmental movement, Oka, said: “Our programme has been in operation since 2010. During this time, we have carried out 44 full-scale environmental monitoring expeditions to most Russian-designed NPPs operating both in Russia and abroad, as well as to those under construction.The ecological expedition to the FNPP and around Pevek is the latest stage of this programme.”

Green Party member and biologist Larisa Kosyuk said: “In the context of the carbon emissions regulation introduced by the EU, the FNPP project can serve as an example of green technologies in the energy sector. Such power plants will be especially useful in the regions of Russia’s Far North and the Far East, where there are no hydrological resources of energy, and the delivery of fuel – such as coal and oil products – is expensive.”

Kirill Toropov, deputy director of the local branch of Rosenergoatom JSC, told the expedition participants about the changes that have taken place in the town since the floating nuclear power plant has been connected to the grid: “Not only did the arrival of the FNPP introduce an additional source of energy, it opened a new chapter in the development of small modular reactor (SMR) technologies in the region’s energy sector and in that of the country as a whole.”

He added: “Since its commissioning, the FNPP has already established itself as a reliable and innovative source of thermal and electric energy. One cannot help but notice its positive contribution to improving the environmental situation, both in Pevek itself (with a 30% reduction in soot emissions from the Chaunskaya CHPP) and in the surrounding bodies of water (as evinced by the restoration of flora and fauna in the Chaunskaya Bay and the return of seals and other species of marine animals).”

Ivan Leyushkin, head of the Pevek municipal district, noted the expedition’s importance for informing the region’s residents about the safety of nuclear generation. Leyushkin also spoke about the crucial role that the NPP is playing in the region’s development: “Since the floating nuclear power plant has started operation, RUB107 million ($1.5m) of socially significant projects have been implemented in the Pevek district. Our cooperation with Rosatom will continue in the future.”

The FNPP is equipped with two KLT-40S reactors which supply 70MWe of electrical energy and 50 Gcal/h’s worth of thermal energy to Pevek. It comprises the floating power and onshore infrastructure. Since its commissioning, the FNPP has carried out continuous industrial environmental monitoring, as well as monitoring of air, soil cover, sea water, bottom sediments, aquatic biological resources, as well as atmospheric emissions and the management of waste from production and consumption. The cost of the operation of the plant’s environmental protection system amounted to more than RUB17 million in 2020. The NPP’s operation also made it possible to prevent more than 300,000 tonnes of atmospheric CO2 equivalent emissions in 2019 and 2020.

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