Charles Digges

Credit: Tepco

Japan May Dump Radioactive Water from Fukushima into Sea

By Charles Digges 2019-09-15 22:43:58

Japan’s environmental minister has said the country may have to dump more than a million tons of radioactively contaminated water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean as storage runs short, sparking outrage among fishermen and environmentalists. Tokyo Electric Power Co, or Tepco, the Fukushima plant’s owner, has been collecting the water, which has been used for cooling the cores of stricken reactors since they were hit by a tsunami in 2011. “The only option will be to...

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Russia's floating nuclear plant leaving Murmansk. Credit: Bellona

Russia’s Floating Nuclear Plant Arrives in Pevek

By Charles Digges 2019-09-10 21:00:18

Russia’s floating nuclear power plant, the Akademik Lomonosov, has arrived at its remote Arctic destination after sailing 4,700 kilometers from Murmansk, marking a major milestone for Moscow’s experiment in portable nuclear reactors. The vessel will now plug in at the port of Pevek, in Chukotka across the Bering Strait from Alaska, where its electricity will replace what’s provided by the Bilibino nuclear power plant, the world’s only commercial reactors operating in a permafrost environment. The 140-meter floating plant, which was...

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Radiation symbol. (Photo: Nils Bøhmer)

Russia Says Small Nuclear Reactor Blew Up in Deadly Arctic Accident

By Charles Digges 2019-08-12 19:27:39

The international community is racing to understand a mysterious explosion that released radiation off the coast of northern Russia last week, apparently during the test of a new type of nuclear-propelled cruise missile hailed by President Vladimir Putin as the centerpiece of Moscow’s arms race with the United States. In televised remarks released Monday, Vyacheslav Soloviev, a top official from the institute developing the reactor confirmed the accident, saying that scientists had been working to create a power source using...

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The Arktika icebreaker's hull putting to water in St Petersburg. (Photo: gov-murman.ru)

Russia to Build Two More Nuclear Icebreakers

By Charles Digges 2019-08-07 17:52:10

Russia has said it will build two new nuclear icebreakers in a bid to make a rapidly melting trade route through the Arctic accessible to shipping traffic on a year round basis. The announcement came on July 10 when Atomflot, which runs Russia’s nuclear icebreaker fleet, posted an official tender for two new nuclear vessels for a total price of $147 billion. The new orders represent an addition to three nuclear icebreakers that Russia already has under construction, called the...

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The Akademik Lomonosov, Russia's floating nuclear power plant, at sea off the coast of Norway. Credit: Nils Bøhmer/Bellona

Russia’s Floating Nuclear Plant to Make its Way Across the Arctic

By Charles Digges 2019-08-06 20:21:04

Russia is preparing to launch its audaciously conceived floating nuclear power plant, the Akademik Lomonosov, deploying it 6,000 kilometers to the country’s far east in a bid to expand the use of nuclear power in the Arctic. The barge will be towed from Murmansk to the port of Pevek on Russia’s Pacific coast, where its two nuclear reactors will provide heat and power to homes and support mining and drilling operations in the mineral-rich Chukotka region. If all goes to...

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file photo

Russian-China Relations are Warming the Arctic

By Charles Digges 2019-05-26 21:27:09

If the Kremlin meets its goal of transforming the Arctic’s Northern Sea Route into a bustling commercial shipping passage, it may end up having China to thank. Following this month’s fractious meeting of the Arctic Council in Finland, China convened an Arctic conference of its own in Shanghai at which it showcased the cooperation that had been in short supply at the earlier Arctic summit. At the Finnish meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointedly criticized China, saying Beijing’s...

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Norway's Push-Pull Coziness with Big Oil

By Charles Digges 2019-03-19 17:14:21

Norway’s $ 1 trillion sovereign wealth fund – the world’s largest – has taken a partial step to dump oil stocks, approving the sale of smaller exploration companies while sparing some of the world’s biggest producers like BP, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell. The strategy shift, based on advice from the country’s central Norges Bank, will affect 1.2 percent of its equity holdings, worth about 66 billion Norwegian kroner, or $7.5 billion. The move has cheered environmentalists and sent...

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Leader

Russian Official Confirms Plans for Behemoth Icebreaker

By Charles Digges 2019-02-28 17:32:35

Russian officials have said they will back the overhaul of an ailing Far Eastern shipyard in order to build an enormous nuclear icebreaker the Kremlin hopes will cement its control of Arctic waterways, the official Tass newswire reported this week. The icebreaker in question is the Leader – or Lider in Russian – a ship of futuristic, almost fantastical, proportions that first debuted on the pages of a slick Russian trade magazine four years ago. But what at first looked...

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Bilibino

Russia to Decommission World’s Most Remote Nuclear Power Plant

By Charles Digges 2019-02-12 19:40:48

Russia’s government has approved plans to begin decommissioning what are perhaps the most secluded commercial nuclear reactors in the world, located at the Bilibino nuclear power plant in Chukotka – 5,600 kilometers and 11 time zones to Moscow’s east. The approval represents a major step toward plugging in Russia’s controversial floating nuclear power plant, the Akademik Lomonosov, which was built to replace the electricity supplied by the Bilibino facility. In technical terms, Russia’s nuclear utility Rosenergoatom asked for and received...

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President Vladimir Putin photographed last year at one of Russia's Arctic outposts. Credit: Kremlin Photo

Russian Ministers Try to Fulfill Putin’s Arctic Shipping Goals

By Charles Digges 2019-01-21 19:04:12

Ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin decreed last year that shipping traffic through the Arctic’s Northern Sea Route must increase to a soaring 80 million tons annually within a mere five years, the emperor’s wish has been treated as a reality. The May presidential decree had the ring of the old-fashioned Stalinist five-year plans, which, throughout the communist era, were the economic yardstick of the Soviet economy. The penalties for coming up short were harsh, with under-producing bureaucrats singled out...

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