Charles Digges

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Russian-China Relations are Warming the Arctic

By Charles Digges 2019-05-26 21:27:09

If the Kremlin meets its goal of transforming the Arctic’s Northern Sea Route into a bustling commercial shipping passage, it may end up having China to thank. Following this month’s fractious meeting of the Arctic Council in Finland, China convened an Arctic conference of its own in Shanghai at which it showcased the cooperation that had been in short supply at the earlier Arctic summit. At the Finnish meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointedly criticized China, saying Beijing’s...

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Norway's Push-Pull Coziness with Big Oil

By Charles Digges 2019-03-19 17:14:21

Norway’s $ 1 trillion sovereign wealth fund – the world’s largest – has taken a partial step to dump oil stocks, approving the sale of smaller exploration companies while sparing some of the world’s biggest producers like BP, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell. The strategy shift, based on advice from the country’s central Norges Bank, will affect 1.2 percent of its equity holdings, worth about 66 billion Norwegian kroner, or $7.5 billion. The move has cheered environmentalists and sent...

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Leader

Russian Official Confirms Plans for Behemoth Icebreaker

By Charles Digges 2019-02-28 17:32:35

Russian officials have said they will back the overhaul of an ailing Far Eastern shipyard in order to build an enormous nuclear icebreaker the Kremlin hopes will cement its control of Arctic waterways, the official Tass newswire reported this week. The icebreaker in question is the Leader – or Lider in Russian – a ship of futuristic, almost fantastical, proportions that first debuted on the pages of a slick Russian trade magazine four years ago. But what at first looked...

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Bilibino

Russia to Decommission World’s Most Remote Nuclear Power Plant

By Charles Digges 2019-02-12 19:40:48

Russia’s government has approved plans to begin decommissioning what are perhaps the most secluded commercial nuclear reactors in the world, located at the Bilibino nuclear power plant in Chukotka – 5,600 kilometers and 11 time zones to Moscow’s east. The approval represents a major step toward plugging in Russia’s controversial floating nuclear power plant, the Akademik Lomonosov, which was built to replace the electricity supplied by the Bilibino facility. In technical terms, Russia’s nuclear utility Rosenergoatom asked for and received...

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President Vladimir Putin photographed last year at one of Russia's Arctic outposts. Credit: Kremlin Photo

Russian Ministers Try to Fulfill Putin’s Arctic Shipping Goals

By Charles Digges 2019-01-21 19:04:12

Ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin decreed last year that shipping traffic through the Arctic’s Northern Sea Route must increase to a soaring 80 million tons annually within a mere five years, the emperor’s wish has been treated as a reality. The May presidential decree had the ring of the old-fashioned Stalinist five-year plans, which, throughout the communist era, were the economic yardstick of the Soviet economy. The penalties for coming up short were harsh, with under-producing bureaucrats singled out...

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Northern Sea Route

Legislation Grants Rosatom Control of the Russian Arctic

By Charles Digges 2018-12-19 19:33:17

Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom, has been granted control over the Arctic Northern Sea Route, advancing its aim of becoming the sole operator on what Moscow says – and many other nations believe – is one of the world’s biggest emerging trade routes. But the environmental consequences of such a move are enormous. On top of eroding already retreating ice levels in the Arctic – contributing to worldwide seal level rises and the ability of the planet to shield itself...

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Technicians loading the first reactor aboard the Akademik Lomonosov, Russia's floating nuclear power plant. Credit: Rosenergoatom

First Reactor Started on Russia’s Floating Nuclear Plant

By Charles Digges 2018-11-05 16:35:57

Russia’s floating nuclear power plant, long a controversial dream of the country’s atomic energy industry, has finally become an actual nuclear power plant after its first reactor achieved a sustained chain reaction at its mooring in Murmansk harbor last week. The news came in a release to RIA Novosti, a semi-official Russian newswire, which on Friday quoted an unnamed official with Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear energy enterprise. “The physical launch of the reactor unit on the starboard side of the...

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The condition of the K-27 submarine, which the Soviet Navy scuttled in the waters off Novaya Zemlya. Credit: IBRAE

Russia Updates Maps of Radioactive Debris Sunk in Arctic

By Charles Digges 2018-10-15 17:55:33

Russian scientists have said that radioactive waste sunk in the Arctic by the Soviet Navy has not leaked any contamination, but have urged Moscow to continue funding observation of the underwater nuclear wrecks. Data on the scuttled cargoes –– which includes several thousand containers of radioactive waste, as well as an entire nuclear submarine –– come from a month-and-a-half-long expedition in the Kara Sea conducted by the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Oceanology. Mikhail Flint, the institute’s head, told...

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Credit: Bellona

Russia’s Floating Nuclear Plant Opens its Gangway for Bellona

By Charles Digges 2018-10-01 19:25:07

After years of secrecy surrounding the Akademik Lomonsov, Russia’s controversial floating nuclear power plant, Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom has finally allowed foreign environmentalists on board to give it a look. Those environmentalists were Nils Bøhmer, Bellona’s general manager, and Oskar Njaa, an advisor with Bellona’s Russia group, and last week, accompanied by Bellona’s staff in Murmansk, theirs were among the first eyes from outside Russia to see the inside of Russia’s most recent answer to mobile nuclear power.

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Sturgis

World's First Floating Nuclear Plant Dismantled in Texas

By Charles Digges 2018-09-24 19:58:00

Last week engineering crews confirmed they had finished dismantling the world’s first floating nuclear power plant, deactivating its reactor and removing more than 680,000 kilograms of nuclear waste, which will now be sent to safer storage. No, no. Not Russia’s Akademik Lomonosov, who officials there will proudly tell you is the world’s “first” floating nuclear power plant, and which workers are currently fueling and testing in Murmansk. Rather it’s the Sturgis, which was built in America and actually claimed the...

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