Metsamor Plant Shuts Down After Malfunction

YEREVAN (AP)–Armenia’s Metsamor nuclear power plant experienced an electrical malfunction and automatically shut down this week but did not leak any radiation–officials said Friday.

The Metsamor plant shut down for several hours on Wednesday after registering the malfunction–but is now back to full power–according to the press service for Armenia’s energy ministry. There was no radiation leakage and the shutdown posed no danger–the service said.

The plant–30 kilometers west of the Armenian capital Yerevan–has one working reactor that supplies about 45 percent of the small Caucasus Mountains nation’s electricity needs. The reactor was closed in 1989 amid safety jitters following a devastating 1988 earthquake in then-Soviet Armenia–but restarted in 1995 during an energy crisis in the impoverished country. It was closed for four months last year for maintenance and debt reasons.

Armenia has been under pressure to shut down the plant for good because of worries about the safety of the Soviet-made reactor. Experts have estimated the required safety upgrades at about $1 billion over the next 15 years.

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