ANKARA: EU Increases Pressure On Armenia To Shut Down ANPP

Cihan News, Turkey
July 10 2004

European Union Increases Pressure On Armenia To Shut Down Metsamor
Nuclear Power Plant

ISTANBUL (CIHAN) – The European Union has increased its pressure on
Armenia to shut down the Metsamor nuclear power plant. The Armenian
Power Station uses antiquated Soviet technology, is built on a fault
line and is very close to the Turkish border.

European Commissioner Janez Potocnik, who is preparing a report in
the realm of the Project on European Enlargement and New Neighbors
Initiative, paid a visit to the Armenian capital Yerevan as part of a
round of visits to Southern Caucasian countries. Potocnik said in
Yerevan on Friday that the Metsamor nuclear power plant should be
shut down and that the European Union was ready to give 100 million
euro in aid to Armenia in order to facilitate the shutting down of
the plant.

The Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) was shut down in March 1989 by
the Soviet Union because of safety fears following the devastating
earthquake that struck Armenia in December 1988. However, faced with
a deepening energy crisis due to the country’s lack of fossil fuels,
Armenia decided to resume operations at the 440-MW/second unit on
November 5, 1995. The plant, which was built in 1980 with an intended
life of 30 years, now supplies around 30% of Armenia’s electricity.

Since the Metsamor NPP was inactive for six years, Armenian and
Russian nuclear officials believe that the lone reactor functioning
at the plant could operate up to 2016. The European Union, however,
is pressuring Armenia to shut the plant sooner than this, since it
considers Metsamor to be a safety risk due to flaws in the plant’s
Soviet-designed reactors and due to the region’s seismic activity.
The EU has suggested the plant be shut down by 2004, and has pledged
financial support to facilitate its closure. The G-7 countries, the
World Bank, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the
European Union are exerting pressure on Armenia to close the nuclear
power plant. However, the Armenian state is working to extend the
operation of the nuclear power plant until 2016.

According to the reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA), the power plant is old and is situated on one of the most
active fault lines in the world.

The power plant is about 10 kilometers away from the Turkish border
and is 70 kilometers away from Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, 16
kilometers away from the Turkish city of Igdýr and 60 kilometers away
from the Turkish city of Kars.