Philippines looks to buy Russian nuclear ship

A copy of Russia’s controversial floating nuclear power station could power remote Philippine islands, according to Manila’s trade secretary, Ramon Lopez.

Philippine’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, and fellow Russian populist leader, Vladimir Putin, signed several trade agreements last week in Moscow. One of the accords promised to “jointly explore the prospects of cooperation in the construction of nuclear power plants”.

The bilateral deal also covered the export of canned sardines, tuna and coconut milk to Russia with Moscow looking to export chicken, vehicles, watches and medical equipments in return.

Lopez said it was hoped that bilateral trade would grow further, saying business contacts were spreading and multiplying.

He said there were plans for exports of car parts and aerospace craft to Russia but the Philippines’ limited capacity might hinder rapid expansion.

Lopez told the media that the nuclear agreement was only “exploratory” with assessments needed on whether floating power stations were a viable option for the archipelago.

Floating nuclear power plants would be useful for island provinces, efficient and use the latest, safe technology, Lopez said, adding that they would provide remove the need for heavily polluting coal-fired stations.

He said the deal was not unconstitutional.

Russia’s Akademik Lomonosov (pictured) to power Russia’s most remote regions.

Recently painted in the colours of the Russian flag, the ship, which is dubbed a “floating Chernobyl” is due to power the extraction of fossil fuels and precious stones in the Chukotka peninsula near Alaska.

The vessel is equipped with two KLT-40C reactor systems, similar to those used on icebreakers.

It is 144 metres long and 30 metres wide and has a displacement of 21,000 tonnes.

About 2 million Russians live near the Arctic coast in settlements that can often only be reached by plane or ship and only during favourable weather.

The region generates up to 20 per cent of Russian GDP as Siberian reserves diminish.

Lopez said a floating reactor would be safer than a plant on land because it could avoid earthquake-prone areas or be moved away from natural disasters.

The Philippines already has a nuclear plant in Bataan, which has never supplied electricity amid safety fears and allegations of corruption.

Alexei Likhachev, director general of the Russian nuclear power agency, Rosatom, said Manila could restore the dormant power station and build another plant.

But the Russian ambassador in Manila, Igor Khovaev, said Bataan was built with “absolutely outdated” technology and was beyond repair.

The Akademik Lomonosov. Picture credit: Wikimedia