Published On: Fri, Aug 23rd, 2019

Russia news: Putin unveils ‘Chernobyl on ice’ nuclear power plant days after mystery radia | World | News

Russia will launch the reactor across the Arctic today as an alternative to building a conventional plant onshore. The journey is set to be a ‘sailing’ advert for the plant, which Moscow plans to export next year. However, a deadly explosion earlier this month alongside a suspicious radiation leak has Putin’s population on edge.

After a decade of work, Russia’s flagship operation – named Akademik Lomonosov – means that electricity can be provided to the far-eastern Chukotka region.

As a remote state, it often struggles to get the power to carry out remote oil, gas and mining operations.

It will sail for almost six weeks before arriving in Pevek and start its operations by the end of the year.

However, this month’s explosion at a naval base in northern Russia – an incident many feared caused a dangerous radiation leak – could dampen the optimism behind the launch.

Vladimir Putin's innovative new nuclear plant doesn't come without risk

Vladimir Putin’s innovative new nuclear plant doesn’t come without risk (Image: EXPRESS)

Akademik Lomonosov

Putin’s Akademik Lomonosov (Image: GETTY)

Putin remained silent on the issue despite the base being in lockdown for a whole month.

At the time, Russian expert Dr Mark Galeotti said: “Despite what the Kremlin have said, there must have been some sort of radiation leak – and they want people to not just stay out of harm’s way, but also don’t want people coming to the site with Geiger Counters.

“The Defence Ministry is trying to play this down. It is clearly a bigger issue than they are letting on.”

The radiation level was recorded as 20 times higher than the normal level in the nearby city of Severodvinsk after the incident.

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Putin's Akademik Lomonosov  is launching today

Putin’s Akademik Lomonosov is launching today (Image: GETTY)

The nearby White Sea was closed for commercial shipping, causing further concerns.

It was later revealed that two nuclear monitoring stations went silent following the blast.

Two nuclear scientists died after reportedly being ‘thrown into the sea’ by the explosion.

The launch also put environmentalists on high alert as campaigners fear the reactor could be ‘Chernobyl on ice’.

Greenpeace Russia head Rashid Alimov said: “Any nuclear power plant produces radioactive waste and can have an accident, but Akademik Lomonosov is additionally vulnerable to storms.

“Any accident involving this fuel might have a serious impact on the fragile environment of the Arctic.

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Putin's Akademik Lomonosov has caused fears of a Chernobyl repeat

Putin’s Akademik Lomonosov has caused fears of a Chernobyl repeat (Image: GETTY)

Putin's Akademik Lomonosov will travel to far-eastern Russia

Putin’s Akademik Lomonosov will travel to far-eastern Russia (Image: GETTY)

“There is no infrastructure for a nuclear clean up in the region.”

He added that because the float is towed by other vessels, a collision becomes a lot more likely.

If the ship sunk, exploding fuel rods could send radioactive material flying into the atmosphere and contaminate sea life.

Alternatively, a storm could force the ship to beach onshore, cutting off access to coolant water for the reactor, according to Oskar Njaa of the Bellona Foundation, a Norwegian nuclear watchdog group.

This would set off a ticking time-bomb of sorts, with scientists on-board racing to stop a nuclear meltdown that would occur without sufficient coolant.

Putin's Akademik Lomonosov will serve remote Russian areas

Putin’s Akademik Lomonosov will serve remote Russian areas (Image: GETTY)

He said: “This project is quite high risk.

“We’ve been skeptical from the very start.”

The ship’s chief engineer dismissed concerns of a ‘new Chernobyl’, however.

Vladimir Iriminku said: “These are baseless claims, just the way the reactors themselves operate is different.

“Of course, what happened in Chernobyl must not happen again.

“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.”

Putin will NOT attend the G7 summit

Putin will NOT attend the G7 summit (Image: GETTY)

The plant could also be somewhat of a diplomatic power play by Putin ahead of the G7 talks.

Sarah Palin once boasted that she could see the Chukotka region from Alaska.

Now, Russia’s latest hi-tech creation could be in full view of the US.

Russia has been excluded from the G7 talks since the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Launched just before the latest summit in Biarritz, it is thought that Putin is simply trying to flex Russia’s technological might.

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