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Russia launches floating nuclear reactor in Arctic despite warnings

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Russia will launch the world’s first floating nuclear reactor and send it on an epic journey across the Arctic on Friday, despite environmentalists warning of serious risks to the region.

Loaded with nuclear fuel, the Akademik Lomonosov will leave the Arctic port of Murmansk to begin its 5,000 kilometre (3,000-mile) voyage to northeastern Siberia.

Nuclear agency Rosatom says the reactor is a simpler alternative to building a conventional plant on ground that is frozen all year round, and it intends to sell such reactors abroad.

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But environmental groups have long warned of the dangers of the project, dubbing it a potential “Chernobyl on ice” and a “nuclear Titanic.”

A deadly explosion this month at a military testing site in Russia’s far north, causing a radioactive surge, has prompted further concerns.

The reactor’s trip is expected to last between four and six weeks, depending on the weather conditions and the amount of ice on the way.

Work began on the 144-metre (472-foot) Akademik Lomonosov in Saint Petersburg in 2006.

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AFP / Dario INGIUSTO Russia

When it arrives in Pevek, a town of 5,000 in the Siberian region of Chukotka, it will replace a local nuclear plant and a closed coal plant.

It is due to go into operation by the end of year, mainly serving the region’s oil platforms as Russia develops the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Arctic.

– Radioactive waste –

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Rashid Alimov, the head of the energy sector of Greenpeace Russia, said environmental groups had been critical of the idea of a floating reactor since the 1990s.

“Any nuclear power plant produces radioactive waste and can have an accident, but Akademik Lomonosov is additionally vulnerable to storms,” he told AFP.

The float is towed by other vessels, making a collision during a storm more likely, he said.

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AFP/File / Alexander NEMENOV The Akademik Lomonosov is due to go into operation by the end of year, mainly serving the region’s oil platforms as Russia develops the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Arctic

Because Rosatom plans to store spent fuel onboard, Alimov said “any accident involving this fuel might have a serious impact on the fragile environment of the Arctic.”

He added that there is “no infrastructure for a nuclear clean up” in the region.

Global warming and melting ice has made the Northeast Passage — which connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific along Russia’s northern coast — more accessible.

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When AFP visited the Akademik Lomonosov in May 2018, it was a shabby brown colour. It has since been repainted in the red, white and blue of the Russian flag.

The vessel weighs 21,000 tons and has two reactors with a capacity of 35 megawatts each, close to that of those used by nuclear icebreakers.

It has a crew of 69 and travels at a speed of 3.5 to 4.5 knots.

Alimov said the project was a missed opportunity as Chukotka, a region larger than Texas populated by only 50,000 people, “has a huge potential for the development of wind energy.”

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“A floating nuclear power plant is a too risky and too expensive way of producing electricity,” he said.

The nuclear industry, seeking to reinvent itself in a gloomy market, is developing smaller, cheaper reactors to attract new customers.

They follow the examples of submarines, icebreakers and aircraft carriers, which have long used nuclear power, and are intended for isolated areas with little infrastructure.

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Eric Trump bashes the children of politicians profiting off their family name to enrich themselves: ‘It is sickening’

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President Donald Trump third child blasted children of politicians profiting from their relationship during a Saturday night appearance on Fox News with Jeanine Pirro.

"So where does Joe Biden get off been so pompous and above it all?" Pirro asked.

"If I was doing the same thing that that family was doing I’d be in jail," Eric Trump said.

"Why is it that every family in politics enriches themselves?" he asked. "It is sickening."

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Trump is ‘feeling threatened and running scared’ to cancel G-7 at Doral: ‘Art of the Deal’ co-author

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President Donald Trump announced late on Saturday evening that he was reversing his administration's decision to hold the G-7 Summit at his Trump National Doral Miami golf club.

Trump had received harsh criticism for the selection violating the constitution’s domestic and foreign emolument clauses.

Tony Schwartz, who co-wrote The Art of the Deal with Trump, said the announcement was a sign Trump is feeling threatened.

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Trump announces G-7 won’t be held at Doral after widespread criticism for it violating the Constitution

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President Donald Trump announced Saturday evening that the G-7 Summit will not be held at his Trump National Doral Miami golf club.

The selection of Doral had been widely condemned as a clear violation of both the constitution's domestic and foreign emolument clauses.

"I thought I was doing something very good for our country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 leaders," Trump claimed.

"I announced that I would be willing to do it at no profit or, if legally permissible, at zero cost to the USA. But, as usual, the hostile media and their Democrat partners went crazy!" Trump argued.

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