Thursday, April 19, 2007

Russia builds its first amphibian nuclear plant

Nuclear power is highly controversial, enough so that the building of new commercial nuclear power plants ceased, until now. Russia began construction of its first floating nuclear power plant, planning to build at least six more despite long-standing environmental concerns. Russian supporters justify the program as a way of bringing power to some of the country's most remote areas, also saying some of the plants could be sold to other nations, but critics express that could be a latent dangerous (more than actual) energy source.
It’s truth that nuclear plants provide an important amount of energy worldwide (about 7%), but how safe are they? With a high potential for severe radioactive contamination by accident (Chernobyl) or sabotage (in March, 2006, safety reviews found that several nuclear plants in the United States have been leaking water contaminated with tritium into the ground), they also represent the possibility that its use in some countries could lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Opponents express some concerns regarding nuclear plants saying that the waste they produce is not well protected and that it can be released in the event of terrorist attack, or that, in the worst case, they can even become a perfect target for the enemy. In US, plants are surrounded by a double row of tall fences that are electronically monitored and patrolled by a sizeable force of armed guards. But, how can you protect an amphibian nuclear plant? Also, nuclear reactors require cooling, typically done with water, so, how can they regulate the temperature of exhaust water to avoid killing fish and a long-term impact of hotter-than-natural water on ecosystems? Russian authorities said that these floating plants are much safer than atomic energy stations on the ground. But, what would happen in case of an accidental spill, or, again, what kind of environmental effect can this amphibian nuclear plant cause?

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