Nuclear icebreaker burns again

Publish date: August 9, 2005

A nuclear-powered icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy, or 50th anniversary of Victory, under construction at St. Petersburg Baltiysky shipyard caught fire on August 5.

There was no danger of a radiation leak because the fuel for the reactor has not yet been loaded, St. Petersburg Times reported.

“The vessel is still under construction, and therefore there was no nuclear fuel on it,” said Igor Savelyev, head of the plant’s PR department. “Nuclear-powered ships get fueled only just before they begin to work,” Savelyev said. The fire was small and damaged about 40 meters of cable. The reason for the fire was not clear yet, Savelyev said to St. Petersburg Times.

The icebreaker had already been on fire in November 2004 when a room of 9 square meters burnt down. At that time one worker on board the ship inhaled fumes from the fire and was hospitalized. Savelyev said little fires on ships under construction are not unusual in any country because “such construction works are often accompanied with fire sources.” “In such conditions the main thing is to stop the fire on time, before it becomes uncontrolled. Therefore our plant even has its own fire station.”

The keel of the icebreaker was laid in 1989 and it was put into the water at the end of 1993. But due to the lack of financing, construction was suspended. Partial financing was renewed in the late 1990s. A contract for completing the ship was signed by Baltiysky shipyard and the government in February 2003. It will join the other nuclear icebreakers run by the Murmansk Shipping Company in Murmansk.