US Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Visits Armenia

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–The US Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Dr. Peter B. Lyons visited Armenia Monday for a two-day working trip to familiarize himself with the status of the nuclear power plant at Medzamor and Armenia’s plans for building a new power plant to replace the Medzamor facility, The US embassy in Yerevan reported.
According to the US Embassy Dr. Lyons also explored with Armenian officials ways that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can help Armenia develop the regulatory infrastructure needed in order to license a new nuclear power plant.
During the course of his visit, the Commissioner met with officials from the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Nature Protection and the Armenian Nuclear Regulatory Agency. He also visited the Medzamor Nuclear Power Plant.
Last November Joseph Pennington, the US Charge D’affaires in Armenia and Armenian Energy Minister Armen Movsisian, signed an energy cooperation agreement, which included the joint development of environmental safeguards for the country’s nuclear industry.
Armenia is planning to build a new 1,000 Megawatt power unit on the site of the existing nuclear power plant, which has been operational since 1976.
The Armenia-US agreement stipulates that the parties will join efforts in preliminary assessment of environmental threats and the development of seismic safeguards if the new reactor is built.
Specialists believe the existing nuclear power plant near will remain operational until 2016. Medzamor currently generates 40 to 50 percent of Armenia’s electricity.
In September 2003, the plant came under the five-year trust management of INTER RAO UES, a subsidiary of Rosenergoatom and Russia’s RAO UES electricity monopoly.
The European Union has insisted that Armenia’shut down the nuclear power plant, offering 100 million euros in aid. But Armenian experts say construction of alternative power generating facilities would cost the country about a billion euros.
In order to attract investment for construction of a new power unit, the Armenian parliament abolished in 2006 the state monopoly on the ownership of a future nuclear power plant, allowing private investmen’s.
According to the Armenian Energy Minister, after the feasibility plan is prepared the construction of a new power plant may take from 5 to 6 years.

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