What Could Go Wrong? China Builds A Floating Nuclear Power Plant

Tyler Durden's picture

Back in August, a horrific explosion at a chemical storage facility in the Chinese port of Tianjin killed more than a hundred people and dispersed an unknown amount of toxic sodium cyanide into the air and water.

Despite officials’ best efforts to play down the environmental impact, a series of “unexplained” events occurred in the days and weeks following the tragedy including a massive fish die-off and the appearance of an eerie white foam on the streets following a thunderstorm.

Beijing promised a thorough investigation and unsurprisingly, there were questions as to the warehouse’s owners had ties to the Party and if so, whether those ties helped to explain why the amount of sodium cyanide in storage was orders of magnitude greater than what’s allowed by law.

The blast itself was described by some as akin to a nuclear explosion and indeed, the footage backs up that assessment:

Well don’t look now, but China is set to take it up a notch when it comes to creating the conditions for a "nuclear" disaster because as World Nuclear News reports, Beijing is now all set to build a portable, floating nuclear reactor. Here’s more:

China General Nuclear (CGN) expects to complete construction of a demonstration small modular offshore multi-purpose reactor by 2020, the company announced.


The 200 MWt (60 MWe) reactor has been developed for the supply of electricity, heat and desalination and could be used on islands or in coastal areas, or for offshore oil and gas exploration, according to CGN.


CGN said the development of small-scale offshore and onshore nuclear power reactors will complement its large-scale plants and provide more diverse energy options.

The only floating nuclear power plant today is the Akademik Lomonosov, under construction in Russia, where two 35 MWe reactors similar to those used to propel ships are being mounted on a barge to be moored at a harbour. The Baltiysky Zavod in St Petersburg is on schedule to deliver the first floating nuclear power plant to its customer, Russian nuclear power plant operator Rosenergoatom, in September 2016. It could start operating in Chukotka as early as in 2017.

Here's an artists' impression of what this disaster-waiting-to-happen will look like once complete:

Of course CGN is an SOE which means if and when something does go horribly wrong, there will be no transparency and no accountability whatsoever. 

Check back in 2021 to find out what happens when a nuclear reactor melts down in the middle of the ocean.

Until then, we'll leave you with one final quote from CGN - make a mental note of the bolded passage:

Floating plants offer various advantages: construction in a factory or shipyard should bring efficiencies; siting is simplified; environmental impact is extremely low; and decommissioning can take place at a specialised facility.

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Mr.Sono's picture

I think Japan will be all over this one.

CounterPartyVice's picture

If it melts down they can just sink it isn't?

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

Mobile power to inhabit the islands they have been creating in the middle of nowhere.

CapnJackDaniel's picture

Depends on the kind of reactor guys. China's done a bunch of research into pebble-bed reactors - walk-away safety type of stuff (i.e. if you walk off and ignore it, it shuts down naturally.) It's the old fast-breeder reactors that go 'foom'. They only got popular and widespread as a building standard as a direct result of having the nice side effect of producing, or being easily upgraded to produce, weapons grade material. Pretty sure China got plenty of that already.

The Big Ching-aso's picture

Just one big oops away from more sushi than we can ever eat.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"...and decommissioning can take place at a specialised facility."

That specialized facility might just be to tow it 12 miles off your enemies shore and pull the plug.

1000 splendid suns's picture

Brilliant! They can use all that power to print out trillions of Yuan, and then personally deliver them to Dubai, Iran, Brazil...

The future looks bright!

johngaltfla's picture

Awesome. Should work great.

Let's give it an official name:


tmosley's picture

Who cares? They already have floating nukes. It's called every large ship in their navy.

NoDebt's picture

Can I buy one of these at Harbor Freight next month?


Durrmockracy's picture
Durrmockracy (not verified) philipat Jan 18, 2016 11:01 PM

They said it was "untinkable"!

Manthong's picture

So, if they get into a shooting war with someone, this thing is off-limits, right?

And if some 12th Imam, return of Big Mo on a winged nag group gets a hold of a sub, small missile boat or something, they will understand the hazard and leave it alone, right?

WOAR's picture

Pfft. Limpet mines, my friend, limpet mines!

Always go with the tried and true World War weapons. Much simpler, and more effective. For the discerning terrorist. You know...because they are all so intelligent. So very, very intelligent.


Dental Floss Tycoon's picture

They have a lot of catching up to do.

"Over 140 ships are powered by more than 180 small nuclear reactors and more than 12,000 reactor years of marine operation has been accumulated."





BeansMcGreens's picture

They will write on the back like they do on dump trucks around here "Keep back 200 ft., not responsible for damage". Of course in that scribble they use for writing no one will know what it says.

tmosley's picture

No, but you can probably buy similar ships from the US during its Chapter 13 liquidation sale.

Money Boo Boo's picture

what could go wong??


there will be chinese dudes running this thing, that's a major fucking problem, have you seen them fly or sail a boat or build cities that nobody live in? what a catastrophe, it'll be like a drive thru Fukishima on roids!!

TuPhat's picture

It's also every large ship in the US navy.  It's a little too late to get worried about nukes on the water.  They are already everywhere.

Stuck on Zero's picture

Floating reactors have a large safety factor built-in. If there is a loss of cooling incident you pull the plug.

NoDebt's picture

Yes, because extinguishing a nuclear reaction is just an amped-up version of pissing on a campfire to put it out.


Joe Sichs Pach's picture

"Are we dangerous?"

"Yeah baby, we're dangerous!"

*From a hotel room somewhere in Tianjin

Ghordius's picture

I beg to differ. fact is that nuclear power is used by military vessels since the commissioning in 1958 of the submarine USS_Nautilus_(SSN-571)

if there is a reason to be against a Chinese floating nuclear plant there is also a reason to be against all those military vessels using it, too (ask New Zealanders)

a plan/project, btw, that was originally Russian, but the Russians ditched it

another fact: old nuclear plant are way more dangerous then modern ones. something the operators of old plants don't want you to discuss, ever

sure, ZH is writing "What Could Go Wrong", and indeed, there is a danger, as in everything

but no, what happens to a sinking nuclear plant is the same that happens to a sinking nuclear sub, and we had several of them, i.e. there is the experience in what happens, exactly

cheech_wizard's picture

>Floating reactors have a large safety factor built-in.

They sure do. It's called the fucking ocean. :)


Zero Point's picture

Yes. Pity about the dead ocean I guess though.

rbg81's picture

Uh, floating nuclear power plants are not new.  We have had them on aircraft carriers and subs for decades.

blueRidgeBoy's picture

but it's not "we" we're talking about.  It's the PRC, and they don't have that kind of experience.

Itinerant's picture

There's nothing here on the technology, can't find it with a quick search either.

Most people have never gotten beyond the aversion to plutonium producing PWR reactors with their attendant risks, large scale, and millenia scale toxic waste.

TuPhat's picture

I think you miss spelled something.  It's the BWR reactors that produce the most waste and the breeder reactors that produce the most plutonium.  The PWR is the safest, in the newer designs.

Bearwagon's picture

Although you are correct, I'd like to remind us all of the fact, that Three Mile Island showed exactly how "safe" this design really is. We can still be thankful that it's containment did stand the explosion.

Icewater Enema's picture

Exactly. With the extra added incentive not to bomb the crap out of those islands and make them nonexistent, lest the reactor core crack open and release all that radioactive material into the sea. Clever fuckers, those Chinese.

anonnn's picture

Decommissioning can take place overnight. Like second-hand subs.


anonnn's picture

or it could be done "in typical Port Chicago fashion".

Paveway IV's picture

"...and decommissioning can take place at a specialised facility..."

That specialized facility already exists - it's called 'the ocean floor'. I'm surprised they would still use it considering the already high levels of radiation there from Fukushima. Someone better call the Yakuza now - we're going to need a hell of a lot more disposable, non-traceable contractors for this one.

Thought Processor's picture



The US already has about a dozen of these.  They're called aircraft carriers.


They each generate a shit ton of power.  


(Anyone think that at some point citizens in the US might lobby for them to be hooked up to the local grid for peak power periods???).

CounterPartyVice's picture

Did we just ran out of cheap oil to burn?

Tall Tom's picture

No. But we do have a limited supply of cheap Oil Fired Power Plants.

HenryHall's picture

The Russians have floating military reactors too. Mostly on submarines.

There was talk of moving one to Sevastopol to deal with the electric power shortage, but no way of getting it there from Murmansk.

CounterPartyVice's picture

Did we just ran out of cheap oil to burn?

Lumberjack's picture

During a huge ice storm in the northeast some years ago, a state did request the navy to use an aircraft carrier to provide emergeny power to several communities on shore . The navy declined.

tenpanhandle's picture

Give em a break.  They were way too busy being a "global force for good."

JohninMK's picture

Very reasonable.

It would have cost millions to fit a socket to the side of the carrier.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

In 'Merica, you support our troops.  They don't support you.

Unless you're TPTB.

Q: What's the difference between the Fed and a counterfeit money operation? 

A: Only one of them is supported by the military and CIA.

Thought Processor's picture


Of course don't expect China to have the technical ability or the high standards of the US Navy when it comes to nuclear related issues.  Say what you want about the US military, the Navy's record with nuclear power systems on board waterborn vessels is pretty damn impressive.


Even if aircraft carriers are just big targets out there (which they are.  Subs reign supreme.  In warfare you're either a submarine or a target).