Russian nickel miner wants nuclear power for Arctic plant

A nuclear power station might be built in Norilsk. It will help reduce pollution in the area, Nornickel argues. (The Independent Barents Observer/Thomas Nilsen)

Nornickel starts talks with Russia’s state nuclear energy company Rosatom on the building of a small-scale nuclear power station in Norilsk.

A memorandum of understanding was this week signed by Nornickel owner and CEO Vladimir Potanin and Rosatom General Secretary Aleksei Likhachev. It outlines the building of a small-scale nuclear power station in the far northern industrial city.

“Nornickel and the Norilsk Industrial Region is developing and in that connection we need more electric power after year 2030,” Vladimir Potanin underlines in a comment.

Norilsk is not connected with the Russian national electricity grid and therefore depends on autonomous power generation. Today, the local energy system is owned and operated by Norilsk-Taymyr Energy Company, a subsidiary of Nornickel.

In 2020, a fuel tank collapsed resulting in the spill of more than 20,000 tons of diesel into local lakes, rivers and tundra lands. The company subsequently had to pay an unprecedented fine of 146,18 billion rubles.

Among the alternatives to be considered by Norilsk and Rosatom is the building of a floating unit similar to the Akademik Lomonosov station in Pevek. The Akademik Lomonosov has two KLT-40 reactors, the same units used in Russia’s former Arktika-class of nuclear-powered icebreakers. More power stations of the kind are under development.

The “Akademik Lomonosov” is Russia’s only floating nuclear power station. (Photo: Rosatom)

According to Rosatom, several small-scale NPPs are planned built in the Chukotka area in connection with new mining projects

Norilsk has a population of about 175,000 and is company town of Nornickel. It is one of the world’s most polluted cities.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s inaction on Arctic surveillance could affect future sovereignty: report, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norway’s new ice-strengthened coast guard ship on the way, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Isolated Russia seeks way out through Arctic waters, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: U.S. Department of Defense stresses need for more icebreakers in the Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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