Commission clear on Armenian nuclear plant closure

The European Commission is happy to assist safety upgrades at Armenia’s Metzamor nuclear power plant but with the proviso that the facility is closed down as soon as possible.

That was the message from Nicole Bockstaller, Press Officer for Energy Policy at the EU Energy Commission this week, responding to a query from Power Engineering International.

“The Metzamor nuclear power plant (NPP) belongs to the so called ‘First Generation’ Soviet designed nuclear reactors which cannot be economically upgraded to current internationally recognized nuclear safety standards and should therefore be closed as soon as possible.”

Ms Bockstaller added, “However, as Armenia has no replacement electricity generation capacity which would allow the immediate closure of the plant, the EU and other international donors have agreed to help Armenia to improve the safety of the plant while it remains in operation.”

The Commission is one of the chief movers behind the International Technical Coordination Working Group, under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which was created to decide on the nuclear safety priorities to be addressed and coordinate the projects to be implemented with the support of the donors. The EU made very significant contribution in addressing category III and IV safety issues (the most important and urgent), which had been identified in the frame of work led by the IAEA.

The EU also provided significant support to Armenia (to the operator of the plant and the Regulatory Authority) to carry out stress tests for the Metzamor NPP. The final Self-Assessment Report (by the operator) and an update of the plant Safety Analysis Report are expected by the end of the year.

Bockstaller reinforced to PEi the commission’s stance on the plant, which is located in an earthquake zone, saying “the position of the European Commission has been very clear: its support has been directed to addressing the most pressing safety issues while the plant remains in operation, but it should be closed down as soon as possible.”

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