Armenia to Host Nuclear Power Plant Conference

The safety of the Medzamor plant will be a topic of discussion

YEREVAN (Arka News Agency)—Armenia is scheduled to hold an international conference later this month on the feasibility of constructing yet another nuclear power generation facility in the country.

The conference, slated for April 27 and 28 in Yerevan, was announced Tuesday by Armenian Energy and Natural Resources Minister Armen Movsisyan.

In an interview with the Armenian news.am wire service, the energy minister said that Armenia would not renounce its intention to develop nuclear power and that priority would be given to the technologies related to security.

Only the best technologies will be used in the construction of the future nuclear power generation facility in the country, the official stated.

“It is important to note that the trouble on the Japanese Fukushima was triggered by the tsunami rather than by the earthquake,” said the minister. “In addition, our nuclear power plant has already withstood the test of an earthquake in 1988.”

Equipment manufacturers and potential investors are expected to attend the scheduled conference which expects to draw offers from participants.

The potential site for Armenia’s new nuclear power plant is within a 100-km radius of the 1988 Spitak magnitude-7.2 earthquake which killed at least 25,000 people and shut down the country’s Medzamor nuclear power plant.

After a five-year hiatus, Medzamor was forced to reactivate one of its two generating units to roll back on an acute shortage of electricity throughout the country. The single running reactor is still generating up to 40 percent of the country’s electricity now.

Armenia and Russia have already negotiated the addition of a 1,060-megawatt nuclear-powered generator at Medzamor. The construction of the negotiated unit is said to begin this year at the cost of some $5 billion.

The ongoing radioactive pollution from Fukushima has prompted neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan to voice concerns about Armenia’s planned construction of more nuclear power plants.

Gia Arabidze, dean of the energy and telecommunication faculty of the Technical University of Georgia, said that the Medzamor nuclear power plant would constitute a real threat to the South Caucasus region should there be a powerful earthquake in the country.

Adil Garibov, director of the radiation problems institute under the Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences, said that the functioning of the Medzamor nuclear power plant is dangerous to the entire South Caucasus.

The Medzamor nuclear power plant is a light water-cooled nuclear reactor-run power generating facility built in 1976. Armenian authorities have guaranteed that Medzamor is operating in its normal exploitation regime.

Ashot Martirosyan, chief of the Armenian state committee for nuclear safety and security, said that apart from routine inspections by Russian, European and American experts, the IAEA would also send German experts to inspect the facility in the wake of the Fukushima tragedy.

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