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Technological utopianism in the twenty-first century: russia's nuclear future

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The Soviet nuclear power establishment, the second largest in the world, has embarked on an ambitious program to build dozens of reactors between 2003 and 2020. The rejuvenation of that Soviet establishment through Russia's Ministry of Atomic Energy (MinAtom) is based on the technological utopianism of Russian political and scientific leaders. They see nuclear energy as a way to maintain Russia's great power status. They have adopted approaches to reactor development prominent in the Soviet era. These include building dozens of new reactors in construction time faster than seen before in world history, upgrading several Chernobyl-type reactors, accepting spent fuel from abroad for storage in exchange for cash, and floating--literally--nuclear power stations on barges for use in Russia's far north and for export. There are few controls on MinAtom within the government, and public involvement in the technology assessment process is limited.
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Keywords: Cheliabinsk; Chernobyl; Nuclear power; Plutonium; Russia

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of History, Colby College, Mayflower Hill, Waterville, ME 04901, USA

Publication date: 01 September 2003

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