Russia, Armenia Sign Deal to Extend Life of Metsamor Nuclear Plant

Armenia's Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant, located near Yerevan


YEREVAN (Arka)—On Dec. 13, Russia and Armenia signed an intergovernmental cooperation agreement for extending the service life of Armenia’s nuclear power plant in Metsamor, Russia’s state-run Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom, announced on Monday.

The service life of Metsamor’s second reactor unit, its sole operational reactor, expires in September 2016, but the agreement plans on extending its operation for another 10 years, to September 2026.

The agreement was signed by Rosatom chief Sergey Kiriyenko and Armenian energy and natural resources minister Yervand Zakarian, Novosti-Armenia reported citing Russian RIA Novosti news agency.

The agreement provides for a comprehensive study of the second unit before the end of the first quarter of 2015. The study will be used to prepare a plan of actions for extending the operational life of the reactor.

Rosatom said a license for extending the service life of the facility is expected in 2016. This will be followed by the final stage of the work, scheduled for completion by 2019.

The agreement provides for major repair and replacement of equipment, preparation of maintenance documentation and staff training.

“All [these] measures will enable a safe and secure operation of the plant at least until 2026,” a statement from Rosatom said.

The parties agreed also that the project will be financed by a loan that Russia will provide to Armenia.

The terms of the loan are currently being coordinated by the finance ministries of the two countries, according to Rosatom.

The Metsamor plant, located less than 20 miles west of Yerevan, was built in the 1970’s but was closed following a devastating earthquake in 1988 that killed more than 25,000 people and devastated much of northern Armenia.

One of the plant’s two VVER 440-V230 light-water reactors was reactivated in 1995. The Armenian government said earlier that it wants to build a new facility that would operate at twice the capacity of the Soviet-constructed facility. Metsamor currently generates some 40 percent of Armenia’s electricity. The construction of a new facility is estimated to cost as much as $5 billion.

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5 Comments

  1. Hratch said:

    We do not need extension programs. This is a disaster waiting to happen. If Mother Russia has Armenia in her best interest, then let them finance the construction of a 21 century reactor. Otherwise, step aside and let Armenia cooperate with someone who can actually upgrade the energy sector. By enslaving us, they think they can also play with the health of our people and environment.

  2. Raffi said:

    Hratch, the plan to build a new and modern station I already underway, however nuclear plants are not like apartment buildings… They take years to build and require extensive research and planning. This extension program’s purpose is to buy the time necessary to transition into a future with a more long term energy solution. Its not fair to point fingers at Armenian government for buckling to Russia’s decisions. Unfortunately, we do not have any other allies in the region. The western power do not hesitate to look the other way any time we so much as mention nuclear power. As a person with an extensive background in the technology, I can safely tell you that the risks associated with the continued use of the existing metsamor facility are small. Nuclear is very stable and safe technology. Russians have no interests in seeing the plant fail, considering that they own it. What’s good for them is good for us.

  3. Janapar said:

    Sadly this is one area where Russia is required. That old pig needs to be kept safe. If it were possible for western firms to fix it up I would switch tomorrow. Call them, now. Stick that in Vlad’s face. The US, France or Canada make nice ones. Put tenders out and get some western friends with boots on the ground.

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