Planned Shutdown of Nuclear Plant in 2004 Questioned

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The Armenian nuclear power plant will not necessarily be shut down in 2004–as it was expected earlier–Director of the plant Souren Azatian said. According to Azatian–the power plant is a most important component of Armenia’s energy sector–and its being shut down may result in serious problems for the country. Meanwhile–since 1995–when the plant was re-started–considerable work aimed at enhancing the safety and reliability of the power plant has been carried out.

We would remind you that in September 1999–in Brussels–representatives of Armenia and the European Union signed a protocol on shutting down the Armenian nuclear power plant. But it is stipulated in the protocol that the plant will be shut down provided that new capacities (600 megawatts instead of the current 400) are created. Under the document–the target date of the shutdown is 2004.

S. Azatian said that 18,000,000 kw/h of energy are now generated in Armenia daily–half of this quantity being generated from nuclear power. For 9,000,000 kw/h of energy to be generated by Armenia’s thermal power plants–an additional 2,000 tons of black oil are required.

"The preservation of the single energy sector and strengthening of cooperation are a guarantee of the reliability of power supply and energy safety in the countries of the region," declared Azatian in his speech addressing the problem of forming a regional energy market January 21.

He pointed out the need for a common regional policy as an addition to the national energy policy. For the regional energy market to function harmoniously a coordinating approach should be displayed. In that connection–Azatian suggested the establishment of a regional consultation committee. Azatian said that priority tasks of the regional energy policy are: the forecast of the energy needs of the member-countries and possible ways of meeting these needs; development of a common legal basis for energy cooperation; development of versatile economic relations between economic agents in the energy sectors of importing and exporting countries; and the development of scientific and technological cooperation in the energy sector.

S. Azatian pointed out that 50 percent of the total quantity of electric energy in Armenia is generated by the Armenian nuclear power plant. The plant’s operation is reliable–but it does not mean that the possibility of developing alternative sources of energy must be ruled out. He considers important a comprehensive development of the energy sector–with all the sources of energy used.

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