YEREVAN (Arka)—Russia is ready to finance 35 percent of the cost of construction of a new power unit for Armenia’s nuclear power plant, Vahram Petrosyan, the secretary of a presidential council on nuclear power safety, said today.
Armenian authorities said they will build a new nuclear power plant to replace the aging Metsamor plant. The new plant is supposed to operate at twice the capacity of the Soviet-constructed facility. Metsamor currently generates some 40 percent of Armenia’s electricity. But the government has yet to attract funding for the project that was estimated by a U.S.-funded feasibility study to cost at as much as $5 billion
“We are looking for new investors. As for Russia, they are willing to participate in the project by funding 35 percent of its cost. The money will be used to purchase the necessary equipment,” Petrosyan said at a news conference after a meeting of the council.
The plant is located some 30 kilometers west of Yerevan. It was built in the 1970s but was closed following a devastating earthquake in 1988. One of its two VVER 440-V230 light-water reactors was reactivated in 1995.
On September 3, Russian president Putin said experts from Russian state nuclear company Rosatom and Armenian experts will work to extend the service life of the Armenian nuclear power plant in Metsamor for another 10 years until 2026.
Petrosyan said the extension of the service life of the facility requires at least $150 million.
On Wednesday, President Serzh Sarkisian met with the chairman of the presidential Nuclear Energy Safety Council (NESC), Adolf Birkhofer, who has arrived in Armenia to participate in the regular session of the NESC.
The President of Armenia and Chairman of NESC spoke about planned works aimed at the enhancement of the security level of the Metsamor nuclear power plant and its current state. In that regard, the parties stated that the Metsamor plant has the necessary projected level of seismic stability. Serzh Sarkisian and Adolf Birkhofer also spoke about issues related to the future operation of the plant, the construction of a new energy unit, and cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including the results of the OSART mission.
After the meeting, President Serzh Sarkisian and Chairman Adolf Birkhofer participated in the session of the NESC.
The President began by underscoring that it would be difficult to overestimate the importance of cooperation in the council, considering the special role that nuclear energy plays in ensuring energy security for Armenia.
President Sarkisian thanked the IAEA, the governments of the Russian Federation, US, Czech Republic, Great Britain, and Italy, and the European Commission for their assistance.
“The Republic of Armenia has been constantly improving its domestic legislation and has been fulfilling, in good faith, her international obligations,” the President said.
The governments of the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation will soon sign an agreement on cooperation in the area of nuclear safety, the President said. The agreement will allow Armenia to:
– develop infrastructure for nuclear safety in preparation for the construction of new energy units based on Russian designs.
– train, re-train and upgrade specialists of nuclear safety, taking into consideration IAEA recommendations.
– expand the framework of cooperation in nuclear energy.
In October 2012, the Governments of the Republic of Armenia and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding pertinent to the energy (including nuclear energy) sector. The document allows the two countries to cooperate more closely in the area of peaceful use of nuclear energy.
President Sarkisian mentioned that a great amount of work has been done with the assistance of the IAEA and international experts towards improving the seismic stability of the Metsamor plant. In 2012, during routine, preventive renovations, supporting structures were installed to enhance the seismic stability of the main structures and components of the plant, which are pivotal from a safety point of view.
In 2013, the IAEA OSART sent a mission to Armenia that registered sufficient progress but also raised concerns related, particularly, to the management of radioactive waste.
The President said experts have already started to develop a strategy on safe management of radioactive waste with the technical assistance of the European Union.
“Armenia reiterates her intention to develop nuclear energy which has a special place in the country’s energy development program. Only nuclear power can allow us to maintain the proper level of the country’s energy security and independence,” President Sargsyan stressed in his remarks.