Armenian nuclear power station made safer – International Atomic Energy Agency
An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring report states that the safety level of the Armenian Metsamor nuclear power plant has increased, rating the facility at 3.82 point on a four-point scale.
The monitoring of the IAEA mission was conducted at the invitation of the government and the State Committee for Regulation of Atomic Safety of Armenia. Its goal was to check the quality of the implementation of the proposals and recommendations of the organization.
As the results of the study showed, Armenia has improved the regulation of nuclear and radiation safety.
Experts say there has been marked improvement since 2015, and that the country has particularly succeeded in adopting a management strategy for radioactive waste.
The monitoring group consisted of 12 specialists from different countries, three of whom were employees of the IAEA.
Response in Armenia
The head of the State Nuclear Safety Regulatory Committee, Ashot Martirosyan, stated that a nuclear safety level of 3.82 points out of a possible 4 points is a high figure.
But despite this, the IAEA mission, according to Martirosyan, put forward a number of proposals for further improving the infrastructure of the regulatory body.
Lack of qualified staff
More recently, the IAEA team published a statement in which it mentioned the problems in the country.
The report, in particular, states that in Armenia there is a shortage of qualified and experienced staff in the regulatory body.
“Armenia has made significant progress in developing a security policy and strategy. Nevertheless, the regulator faces a critical situation related to human resources”, said Hans Wanner, the head of the Integrated Legislative Review team, director general of the Swiss Federal Inspectorate for Nuclear Safety.
On the Metsamor power station
For more than twenty years, the Armenian or Metsamor nuclear power plant has remained a key element in the republic’s energy security system. It provides about 40 percent of the electricity generated in Armenia.
This is the only nuclear power plant in the South Caucasus. The building of the nuclear power plant is able to withstand an earthquake of magnitude nine points. This is important because Armenia is in an unstable seismic zone.
The facility was commissioned in 1977. After the devastating earthquake in the north of the country in 1988, the Council of Ministers of the USSR and the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR decided to stop the operation of nuclear power plants. This was due to the likelihood of aftershocks.
However, five years later, in 1993, the authorities of independent Armenia had to restart the second power unit of the station, given there was an absence of other sources of electricity.
This was the only way out of the energy crisis that began in the country after the collapse of the USSR and the blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan.