Armenian Power Plant Tests Emergency Skills

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"The results of the ‘Aragats-99′ exercise show that Armenia’s relevant services are mostly ready to perform information functions in the event of a nuclear or radiological emergency at the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant," Head of the Radiation Safety and Emergency Department Ashot Mnatsakanian told reporters September 8. He noted–however–that the exercise revealed a number of shortcomings such as technical difficulties and lack of personnel.

The main goal of the Aragats-99 exercise was the improvement of the readiness for nuclear or radiological emergency. Participating in the exercise were representatives of the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant–StateAtomControl–State Emergency Management Administration–Ministry of the Interior–Foreign Ministry–Ministry of Health and local authorities. Among foreign participants were representatives of MAGATE–Institute for Problems of Safe Development of Nuclear Energy–Russian Academy of Sciences–and Institute for Nuclear and Radiation Protection of France. Present were also observers from the US–Russia–France and Great Britain.

According to the mock-emergency developed by the IPSN and IPSDNE experts–a leak of radiation had spread 12 km South-East. Mnatsakanian said that the exercise involved emergency assessment groups–which watched the movement of the cloud–technological assessment groups–which were engaged in making assessment of the situation at the power plant–and groups engaged in studying the degree of pollution of the territory and in the evacuation of the population.

He reported that a project of technical cooperation with MAGATE is currently being developed. The MAGATE plans to conduct a similar exercise in Yerevan in 2001.

The MAGATE representative–Malcolm Crick gave a high appraisal to the Aragats-99 exercise and pointed out the need for improving the national plan of reaction in case of an emergency at the power plant. This plan was jointly developed by experts of the StateAtomControl–State Emergency Management Administration and the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant.

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