European Commission calls Armenia to shut down Metsamor NPP

Baku, February 6, AZERTAC

The Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant, which does not meet internationally accepted nuclear safety standards requires an early closure and safe decommissioning, says the European Commission's report titled "Partnership Implementation Report on Armenia" .

The European Commission urges Armenia to adopt a road map or action plan to address this issue.

"The nuclear power plant located in Metsamor cannot be upgraded to fully meet internationally accepted nuclear safety standards, and therefore requires an early closure and safe decommissioning.

It is necessary to rapidly adopt a road map or action plan to address this, taking into consideration the need to ensure Armenia’s energy security and conditions for sustainable development. The peer review of national action plan implementation held in November 2019 recognized that significant efforts have been made since 2016 and that there has been good progress on protecting the installations from external hazards", the report notes.

The Metsamor NPP is situated on an active seismic fault; the site of a devastating earthquake killed more than 50,000 people in 1988. Armenia signed a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with the European Commission promising to shut down Metsamor by 2004. Nevertheless, the plant was in extremely poor condition that made its operation unsecure and dangerous. The decision to restart the operation of the NPP led to the fears of another Chernobyl as it suffered from the same deficiencies in all early Soviet-designed reactors such as poor management, insufficient fire control, outdated computers, lax training, bad construction and not containment structure to prevent catastrophic release of radiation in the likely event of an accident.

In addition to its ageing technology, Metsamor, high in the mountains, lacks suitable water resources to use as reactor core coolant in the event that an earthquake damaged the facility, while Armenia’s parlous fiscal situation means that its government lacks financial resources to address the consequences of a possible accident.

Metsamor is one less than a half dozen remaining nuclear reactors of its kind that were built without primary containment structures. In 2020, Armenian officials said that they planned to extend the operating lifetime of the Metsamor nuclear power plant until 2026 but it could continue to remain operational until 2036 after modernization.

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