Russia has recently begun construction on a floating nuclear power
plant, designed to bring electricity to remote northern regions of that
country. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Suzanne Elston
what could happen if we brought these floating plants to the Great
Okay, so on the surface it sounds like a really bad idea. Build
floating nuclear power plants, with dependable Russian nuclear
technology, and dot them along the shore of the Arctic Ocean. Sort of
like a little fleet of mini-Chernobyls-to-go. Critics are saying that
these barges will be sitting ducks, waiting for terrorists to tow
them away. And then there’s that ever-present threat to the
But I say, let’s not be hasty here. I think there’s a potential for
using these barges in the Great Lakes. First of all, they could help
us get rid of our nuclear waste problem. What Russia plans to do
with the spent fuel is tow the barges into shore every dozen years
and unload it. But I say flip it around. Take all the waste from our
land-locked plants and stick it on the barge.
This would solve no end of problems. No more worrying about burying
it in a mountain somewhere. Problem solved at a fraction of the cost.
We actually could float the stuff in the water around the barge,
which would solve another major environmental problem. There’s been
so much concern about invading species in the Great Lakes. A good
dose of radiation should render even the hardiest invader sterile.
Another problem solved.
And that’s just the beginning. The glow from all this spent fuel
would light up the water around the reactor. This would make it a lot
easier for sports fishermen to see what they’re doing. After all,
nobody’s supposed to eat the fish they catch from the Great Lakes,
anyway. If we keep the barges nice and close to the shoreline, they’d
light up those dark and dangerous beaches. We’d save on energy and we
wouldn’t have to worry about lighting bonfires. That would put an end
to all those rowdy beach parties. The glow would also help boaters
find their docks at night. No more search and rescue. Another bonus.
The more I think about it, the more I have to admit, this is one hot
idea. You gotta hand it to those Russians. I wonder what they’ll
think of next.
Suzanne Elston is a syndicated columnist living in Courtice, Ontario. She comes to us by way of the
Great Lakes Radio Consortium.