Armenia hopes to delay shutdown of Metsamor plant

16 August 2010

A senior Armenian official has told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that the government will probably delay the decommissioning of its Soviet-era nuclear power station, Armenia 2, for several years.

Construction on a new Russian-designed reactor to replace Armenia 2 was expected to start in 2011, but this now seems ‘unrealistic.’

Head of the state committee on nuclear safety, Ashot Martirosian, told RFE/RL that: “construction of a new [power-generating] unit will probably start in 2012 and, assuming that it will take six years, will end in 2018."

He said the authorities were "thinking about keeping the functioning unit operational for two or three or four more years," and would seek clearance to do so from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He said that the authorities were ready to take additional safety measures at the plant in order to keep the reactor operational for longer.

In 2009, Armenia 2–located 30km from the country’s capital Yerevan–supplied around 45% of Armenia’s electricity. The country is under international pressure to shut down the first-generation VVER reactor due to safety concerns, however authorities have suggested that it will not be shuttered until a similar capacity plant has been built. Armenia 1 was closed in 1989, following an earthquake.

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