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Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant, Armenia


Description

The Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (ANPP), also known as the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant, is the only nuclear power plant in Armenia, located 35 kilometers west of Yerevan, the capital of the country.

Metsamor lies on some of Earth's most earthquake-prone terrain and after Fukishima, the seismic risk to the aging power plant has become a

significant concern. Several international NGOs and governments have attempted to persuade Armenia to shut the plant down, without success [1].

Although the nameplate capacity is 407.5 MWe, only 92 percent of this total capacity (376 MWe) is in use since 1995. In 2016, the power plant supplied over 30 percent of the total electricity produced in the country. The plant is operated by ANPP is operated by CJSC HAEK (Closed Joint Stock Company Armenian Atomic Power Plant).

The power plant is originally built with two units of VVER-440 (Model V-270) reactors, the first one started production in 1976, 10 years before the Chernobyl disaster, and the second unit started production of electricity in 1980. Plans for the third and fourth units were abandoned after Chernobyl. 

Similar to the early VVER-440 model reactors of the era, these units, like Chernobyl, do not have containment buildings found in the western reactors. Coupled with the issues related to the age and earthquake risks, the power plant is heavily criticized by the governments and civil society of the neighboring countries, namely Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. 

Even though the reactors’ lifetime was originally planned as 30 years, the second unit is still in operation, since it still contributes to an important share in country's total electricity supply. There are several proposals by the neighboring countries and the EU to close down the reactor, however, the Armenian government chose to operate the plant until the new unit (expected to connect to grid in 2026) is built [3]. 

Basic Data

NameMetsamor Nuclear Power Plant, Armenia
CountryArmenia
ProvinceYerevan
SiteMetsamor
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Nuclear
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Nuclear waste storage
Nuclear power plants
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Uranium

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsThere are two reactors in the ANPP, both Russian made PWR (Pressurized Water Reactor) of model VVER V-270.

The first unit (Armenian I) started producing electricity commercially in 1977, and was permanently shut down in 1989.

The second unit started its commercial operation in 1980 and was shut down for a long term between 18 March 1989 and 05 November 1995. It was reconnected to the grid in 1996, and is in operation since then.

The technical properties are as follows:

Reactor Type: PWR (Pressurised Water Reactor)

Model: VVER V-270

Design Net Capacity: 375 MWe

Gross Capacity: 408 MWe

Thermal Capacity: 1375 MWt

Total electricity produced in 2017: 2411.39 GWh [4]
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date1970
Company Names or State EnterprisesHaykakan Atomayin Electrakayan CJSC (HAEK CJSC) from Armenia - Operator
Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) from Russian Federation - Fuel provider
Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of RA from Armenia - Owner
Relevant government actorsPublic Services Regulatory Commission of Armenia (PSRC),

Ministry of Energy Infrastructures and Natural Resources of the Republic of Armenia,

Ministry of Ecology
International and Financial InstitutionsEuropean Union (EU)
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters“EcoLur” Informational Non-Governmental Organization - https://ecolur.org/en/

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Neighbouring countries
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Soil contamination, Other Environmental impacts
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Negotiated alternative solution
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesEU offered financial support to shut the plant down, but it was not accepted by the Armenian Government since the plant provides a large share of the electricity in the country (around 33%)

Plans to replace Metsamor after 2016—with a new nuclear plant at the same location—are still to materialize.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Even though the power plant is very old and put the region in great risk, it is still in operation. There are almost no local mobilizations against the plant since it provides jobs to nearly all local population in the vicinity of the plant. Hence, it is mostly challenged by the neighbouring countries and international EJOs.

Sources and Materials

Links

[2]The Uncertain Fate of Armenia’s Nuclear Power Plant
https://armenianweekly.com/2017/10/20/uncertain-fate-armenias-nuclear-power-plant/

[3]Armenia ignores IAEA proposals to close Metsamor NPP
https://www.azernews.az/aggression/130974.html

[4] International Atomic Energy Agency, Power Reactor Information System, Armenian II reactor.
https://pris.iaea.org/PRIS/CountryStatistics/ReactorDetails.aspx?current=2

[1] Is Armenia's Nuclear Plant the World's Most Dangerous?
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2011/04/110412-most-dangerous-nuclear-plant-armenia/

Other Documents

Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant Metsamor NPP Cooling Towers
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Metsamor_nuclear_power_plant__cooling_towers__Armenia__June_2015_.jpg

Aerial view of the Metsamor NPP
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/800px-Metsamor_aerien.jpg

Meta Information

ContributorCem Iskender Aydin
Last update20/01/2019

Images

 

Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant

Metsamor NPP Cooling Towers

Aerial view of the Metsamor NPP