Boosting Armenian Nuclear Plant Safety Will Take $60 Million

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–International Atomic Energy Agency experts estimate that increasing the safety of Armenia’s nuclear power plant will cost some $60 million and take three or four years–chief of the IAEA Armenia division Ashot Martirosian said on Thursday–basing these figures on similar work in Slovakia and Bulgaria. The IAEA says the present safety level is "acceptable," he added.

Martirosian said that the Armenian government approved draft amendmen’s to law on using nuclear power for civilian purposes–which would increase nuclear and radiation safety requiremen’s in the country. The power plant is planning to ask the government for higher electricity tariffs in June–he added–needed for improving the plant’s financial condition. Tariffs were last raised 7 percent from 7.1 dram to 7.6 dram per kilowatt/hour in January.

The IAEA has also considered shutting down the plant–a venture that would cost $400 million–but has no comparative experience in doing so with this kind of power plant. Armenia’s dual generating block–815-megawatt nuclear power plant was shut down in 1988 for political and environmental reasons. Generating block 2 with the capacity of 407.5 megawatts was put back into operation in 1995.

Since that year–$47 million in financial assistance has gone toward ensuring the Armenian plant’s safe operation–$35 million from the United States and the other 12 percent from the EU.

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