Armenia Prepares for the Temporary Suspension of the Nuclear Power Plant
18.06.2015
12:30
Armenia intends to develop a new bill on nuclear energy based on the IAEA specialists’ proposals. Though the current law has repeatedly been amended, the legislative framework needs updating. The new bill will synthesize the lessons drawn from the Fukushima accident, as well as nuclear materials and means of protection.

The Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Metsamor will be checked to extend the life of the power plant for another ten years, Ashot Martirosyan, Chairman of the State Nuclear Safety Regulatory Committee, said at the Media Center press conference.

The Armenian NPP, the only one in the region, is located near the town of Metsamor (approximately 30 km south of Yerevan). It was commissioned in 1980 and decommissioned in March 1989 following the Spitak earthquake in December 1988. The NPP’s operations were re-launched in November 1995 to overcome the grave energy crisis in the republic. The two power units of the Plant have Russian WWER-440 reactors.

The 440-megawatt NPP is morally exhausted, experts believe, yet it is vital for Armenia's energy system, namely for its security and balance. The Armenian NPP supplies about 40% of the electric power generated in the country.

In April 2015, the Parliament of Armenia approved a loan agreement, under which the Russian Federation is to lend $270 million and to grant $30 million to Armenia. These funds will allow the country to prolong the operative time of the second power unit of the Armenian NPP. The loan agreement was signed in December 2014.

Ashot Martirosyan sees no risks in this regard. “There may appear some funding problems, but the measures are being taken in compliance with the schedule,” he said. Martirosyan noted that the temporary decommissioning of the NPP for modernization will trigger no energy crisis in the republic, because other energy sources will be used.

“The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources has fixed the plant's temporary suspension timeframe. In this period they will study the situation, and the second phase of the operations will launch which will embrace the reinforcement of the plant security and change of equipments,” Martirosyan said.

The analysis of international practice shows that the work lasts about six months, the speaker said. “Naturally, in that period we will rely on the use of other electricity sources,” he added.

Martirosyan also spoke on the possible risks and threats but did not specify them because the check-up was not over yet. He only noted the condition of the reactor metal and added that “it is just an example. The plant has previously experienced remedial maintenance and we hope there will be no serious problems. The NPP reactor undergoes repairs once every four years and no problems have arisen so far,” he said. Martirosyan added that following the planned operations and the modernization, the Armenian NPP will be granted license for 10-year operation.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan, Editor-Coordinator

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