A summary of Eve Conant’s “Russia’s new Empire: Nuclear Power. The federation is aggressively selling reactors all over the world, raising safety concerns.” Scientific American. October 17, 2013
Russia wants to supply nuclear power globally. If a country can’t afford the $3 billion price tag, Russia will cut a deal for a Rent-A-Reactor.
Russia has plans to build 40 reactors on their own soil, and another 80 world-wide by 2030. Russia’s state-owned nuclear company Rosatom has already built nuclear plants in Turkey, Vietnam, China, and India. New potential clients include Nigeria, Finland, Eastern block countries, Algeria, Indonesia, Namibia, and Middle Eastern countries. Rosatom is even interested in the United States, where they already provide half of America’s nuclear fuel.
Nuclear proliferation experts are alarmed:
- Nuclear bomb material and know-how will be spread widely. Some of the scarier countries Russia is courting are Myanmar (Burma), Iran, and Belarus.
- Russia is not known for putting a high priority on safety.
- Russia plans to build fast-breeder reactors. A meltdown could create an explosion that would blow the top off and send out highly toxic radioactive plutonium, uranium, cesium, and iodine quite a distance.
- Mass production of small nuclear plants generating just 300 to 500 MW would spread nuclear risk accidents and proliferation of nuclear bomb material even more widely
- Worse yet, Russia plans to build floating reactors, which have the potential to poison entire oceanic food chains, are hard to defend against terrorists, and are vulnerable to tsunamis.
Rosatom will take the nuclear waste back to Russia. No other company offers that. It’s a huge selling point. Very few countries have permanent geological repositories to put nuclear waste in. After Yucca mountain was shut down as a possibility, America has no location in sight, and probably never will with Congress so divided and focused on other issues.
summary by Alice Friedemann