Le Monde Diplomatique: Metsamor - operating Chernobyl

Fri 03 Nov 2017 01:31 GMT | 05:31 Local Time

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Disasters in Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011 violated the scope of nuclear energy in the world, exposing its danger to the public.

The November issue of the monthly magazine "Le Monde Diplomatique" (Diplomatic World) published an article by a French journalist dedicated to the Metsamor Power Plant of Armenia, which poses a threat not only to the region, but also to Europe. We bring to the attention of the reader the translation of this article.

Disasters in Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011 violated the scope of nuclear energy in the world, exposing its danger to the public. But while the rejection of nuclear energy in favor of environmentally safe seems difficult for developed countries, for poor economies, such as Armenia, this task seems almost impossible. Even if nuclear reactors are located in the seismic zone ...

Metsamor was built during the Soviet Union, at the geological junction between Arab and Eurasian planes. This is a highly seismic zone. The first VVER-440 unit with a capacity of 400 megawatts was connected to the network in 1976, and the second unit with the same capacity in 1979. In 1988, a 6.9-magnitude earthquake destroyed the town of Spitak, just seventy kilometers north of Metsamor, and killed 25,000 people, leaving 500,000 people homeless. Then the government decided to close both reactors as a precautionary measure.

A group of women collects vegetables from a garden a hundred meters from the entrance to the Metsamor nuclear power plant near Armavir. Filling their buckets with tomatoes, the women return home. Their husbands work at a nuclear power plant. In their opinion, it's safe to live next to the power station and work there, although they are afraid of a new earthquake. But if they knew the true state of affairs, they would not be so calm and confident.

Armenia, which became independent in 1991, faced a serious energy shortage, which was exacerbated by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the subsequent blockade imposed on it by Azerbaijan and Turkey. In 1995, the government decided to restart the second unit, causing deep concern, both in the region and in Europe. "This nuclear power plant still poses a significant risk for the whole of Europe because of its dilapidation and location in the region with strong seismic activity," the expert on the issue, a representative of the European Union, wrote. He offered assistance in the amount of 100 million euros to close the power unit. However, the Armenian government considered the amount insufficient ...

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