A Russia-designed floating nuclear power plant has begun its journey through the Arctic Ocean this month causing concerns in Alaska, a report said.
The 472-foot barge launched in St. Petersburg, Russia, and will continue along the coast to the Bering Strait separating Russia from Alaska, Alaska Public Media reported Thursday.
The barge, named Akademik Lomonosov, is the world's first floating nuclear power plant, Russian officials said.
Akademik Lomonosov has already journeyed to Murmansk to refuel while receiving a new Russian flag paint job and will continue to Pevek, Russia, where it will dock about 1,250 miles from Anchorage, officials said.
There are concerns about potential radiation the barge could produce in the northwest region.
“Radiation effects. Environmental effects — we’ve been worried about for quite some time in this era of increased shipping, less sea ice,” said Austin Ahmasuk, a marine advocate for Kawarek, the Native non-profit serving the Bering Straits area.
The barge is mounted with two nuclear reactors capable of powering a city about the size of Fairbanks and will provide heat and power to the mining region, Russian officials said.
Akademik Lomonosov is expected to begin producing power in December, officials said.
Despite concerns, this new development could help increase communication between Russia and the United States.
“This would be a perfect opportunity to say, ‘Hey ... we find what you are doing interesting. We would like to learn more,’ and try to make it sort of a positive avenue for information sharing,” said Rebecca Pincus, an Arctic security expert at the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island.