International Experts Say Medzamor Plant Safe

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s Medzamor nuclear power station is meeting safety standards and poses no threat to the environment–an international organization representing nuclear plant managers from around the world said on Wednesday.

"The Medzamor plant’s staff have proven the skeptics wrong," said Zachary Pate–president of the World Association of Nuclear Operators–speaking at news conference in Yerevan following a two-day seminar on the state of Medzamor.

The Medzamor plant was re-activated three years ago to make up for serious energy shortages in Armenia–despite widespread safety concerns in the West. It was shut down under public pressure in 1989–shortly after a devastating earthquake in the north of the country. Working at 85 percent of its capacity–the plant currently generates 35 percent of electricity in Armenia.

Farid Tukhvetov–head of the WANO’s Moscow Center–told reporters that "the quality of Medzamor’s exploitation is very high," as was revealed last year by a group of WANO experts during a two-week thorough inspection. According to the plant’s director–Suren Azatian–Medzamor can operate for another ten years after 2004–its tentative closure date set by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development as a condition for its 10 million ECU loan. The money has been used for the nuclear plant’s re-activation and safety measures.

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