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The floating nuclear reactors would provide power and heat to Arctic regions

Russia's Atomic Power Agency and an Arctic military shipbuilding plant have both agreed to build the world's first commercial floating nuclear fission reactor, which should be in use in as early as 2010.  The first floating reactor that Rosenergoatom and Sevmash build is estimated to cost around $336 million -- it will be deployed in a remote, sparsely-populated region on Siberia's northern coast, where electric and thermal supply is very limited.  Russian president Vladimir Putin hopes to bump the nation's electricity generated by nuclear reactors from 17 percent to 25 percent.   

Although Russian authorities believe floating nuclear plants are safe, not everyone is as supportive.  Environmentalists like Charles Digges, editor of a Norwegian and Russian arctic nuclear publication, believes that floating nuclear plants are "absolutely unsafe - inherently so."  However, the head of Russia's Federal Atomic Power Agency has dismissed all criticism while saying that there will not be a floating Chernobyl incident.

Nuclear fission isn't the only game in town anymore.  ITER, JT-60 and EAST are all racing to increase the world's knowledge on nuclear fusion as well.

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RE: good idea
By huges84 on 6/19/2006 6:16:09 PM , Rating: 1
If you define safety as the lowest number of expected fatalities-- it isn't. Each risk is minor...but when summed across the vast scale required for commercial generation of solar power, its the least safe of all.

That is a completely retarted definition!!! You define safety based on the HIGHEST number of POSSIBLE INJURIES. You also have to wiegh in the severity of the injuries and the likelihood of them happening. More people probably choke to death on food each year then die from radiation. However you are retarted if you say that food is more dangerous than concentrated radiation. It is just that the number of times people eat food is much greater than the number of times someone is exposed to concentrated radiation.

<qoute>The notion that a nuclear accident-- no matter how serious-- could result in "millions of deaths" is fallacious as well.

You obviously do not fully understand logic because you are contradicting yourself there.

Even if you built a Chernobyl-style reactor in the middle of downtown Manhattan, operated it with a team of chimpanzees, and gave al Qaeda all the access codes, you wouldn't get "millions dead" from an accident.

You have got to be kidding! While it may be difficult to destroy a well designed, built, and maintained nuclear plant, it is still very possible. It is not like they are made of some totally indestructable material. And don't start quoting the explosive forces they are built to withstand. There is nothing that you can't use chemical reactions to eat right through, nothing.

RE: good idea
By masher2 on 6/19/2006 6:29:59 PM , Rating: 2
> "You define safety based on the HIGHEST number of POSSIBLE INJURIES."

I got a nice chuckle out of this one. Lets quickly disprove this little gem before we go any further. Let's imagine two different machines. One kills one person a day, each and every day. Guaranteed. The other one has a one-in-a billion chance of killing two people on any given day.

By your notions, the first machine is inherently safer. After all, it can never kill more than one person. So what if it kills 365 people each and every year.

Solar power is like this. The deaths come in ones and twos...possibly 20 or 30 for that rare larger accident. But-- if we actually ever tried to generate large-scale solar power, they'd come in a daily stream.

Compare that to the Western nuclear power industry, which has racked up 10,000+ reactor YEARS of operation, all without a single fatality. Impressive, to say the least.

> "While it may be difficult to destroy a well designed, built, and maintained nuclear plant, it is still very possible"

Of course. But it wouldn't kill "millions" of people if you did, even if it was in the middle of Manhattan. If you built the plant somewhere outside of a urban area, it wouldn't even kill hundreds of people, assuming the government took proper steps to evacuate and decontam.

RE: good idea
By Eris23007 on 6/19/2006 6:56:24 PM , Rating: 2
The problem in your reasoning is that you assume any destruction of a nuclear facility will result in a critical reaction akin to an atomic bomb exploding.

This is not true.

Nuclear power reactors place uranium or plutonium in such a configuration that, even if unregulated, they will not result in a critical reaction - instead they react in a very slow growth toward criticality that results in the heat they generate being sufficient to melt through the container holding them, the concrete beneath, the earth, etc. This the notion commonly referred to as a "meltdown": the reactants melt through the surface of the earth.

In fact, Chernobyl was a case of a meltdown - what happened was that when the molten core material had melted through the innermost vessel, it actually mixed with some of the material it has melted through, making the molten material less concentrated and therefore easing the nuclear reaction. In the case of Three Mile Island, the core melted, but was unable to penetrate the innermost vessel.

However, at no point does a thermonuclear explosion take place. For that to happen, not only would the core have to melt down - but it would have to be highly compressed to the point where it achieved sufficient density as to go critical. This is one of the parts that makes nuclear weapons so hard to build - you really have to compress it down to extraordinarily high densities, and it will not do so itself.

Look at the first two nukes that the US built: "Fat Man" used a very carefully-designed array of high explosives assembled into a shell configuration that would create extraordinary implosive force inside the shell. Then a critical mass (approx 50lbs if I recall correctly) of highly-purified (much more highly purified than is used in commercial reactors, incidentally) plutonium was placed at the center. When the reaction was desired, the implosion took place, compressing the plutonium to the degree necessary to create a critical reaction.

With uranium, on the other hand, the density required is much lower, but the purity of the fissionables must be much higher - and the purity of the fissionables used in commercial reactors is nowhere near enough.

Long story short, the Chernobyl meltdown was just about as bad of a scenario as is realistic - and did not kill anywhere near the "millions" you so breathlessly imagine.

All in all, the evidence supports masher's conclusions: the notion that a nuclear accident at a commercial power reactor could result in "millions of deaths" is fallacious.

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