MOSCOW, June 4 (RIA Novosti) – Russia's Emergency Ministry plans to use nuclear icebreakers for the first time in response to large-scale emergencies in the Russian Arctic.
Recently, Russia has been actively developing its northern territories, including hydrocarbon production and the Northern Sea Route, which is to form an alternative to traditional oil transport routes from Europe to Asia. The total value of raw materials in the Russian Arctic is estimated at more than $30 trillion.
In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a unified system of deployment for navy surface ships and new generation submarines.
“In conjuction with the Ministry of Transport it was decided that nuclear icebreakers that belong to the Russian state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, will be used in search and rescue missions, which will allow us to respond efficiently to emergency situations related to sea transport, and maritime search and rescue,” according to the Russian Emergency Ministry’s official report.
Currently, Russia’s nuclear icebreaker fleet consists of four icebreakers, with two reactors each and 75,000 total horsepower (Rossiya, Sovetskiy Soyuz, Yamal and 50 Let Pobedy), and two icebreakers, with one reactor each and 40,000 total horsepower (Taymyr and Vaygach).
Russia has several nuclear stations based in its Arctic territory, as well as docking stations for icebreaker and nuclear-powered ships, chemical and fire hazard sites, and important communications systems.
According to the Russian Emergency Ministry there are more than 100 emergency situations in the Russian Arctic annually, both natural and man-made. There has been a steady increase in the number of incidents caused by humans, especially transport accidents (30%), and explosions and fires related to technical equipment (24%).
Russia plans to establish an air force group on its Arctic coast consisting of 14 aircraft (12 helicopters and two planes), based in the airports of Murmansk, Vorkuta, Norilsk and Anadyr.
The Emergency Ministry intends to establish ten emergency rescue centers in the Arctic by 2015 in Dudinka, Murmansk, Naryan-Mar, Arkhangelsk, Nadym, Vorkuta, Tiksi, Pevek, Provideniya and Anadyr.
Rescue centers will operate in standby and emergency response mode to be able to respond to any Arctic disaster. The emergency task force is to consist of 974 full-time staff, with highly mobile centers, equipped with aircraft, all-terrain vehicles, as well as rescue and firefighting equipment.
There are already three functioning rescue centers in the Russian Arctic in Naryan-Mar, Arkhangelsk, Dudinka, four regional search and rescue teams, 196 fire and rescue departments from various agencies. Currently, approximately 10,000 staff man the stations, with two maritime rescue coordination centers in Murmansk and Dikson, three maritime rescue sub-centers in Arkhangelsk, Tiksi and Pevek, and four stations for oil spill disasters in Dikson, Tiksi, Pevek and Provideniya.