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Huge rivers of South Caucasus under nuclear threat

16 May 2016 16:14 (UTC+04:00)
Huge rivers of South Caucasus under nuclear threat

By Rashid Shirinov

Armenia's nature threatening actions have anew become topical as the country continues polluting the major rivers in the South Caucasus.

The Rivers of Kura and Araz are constantly polluted through the nuclear waste of the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), but there is a probability for scaly pollution.

The overused plant operated by Armenia remains a threat for the entire region. The NPP is located close to the region’s four states’ borders: 120 kilometers to Azerbaijani and Georgian, 60 km to Iranian and 16 km to Turkish lands.

Its explosion or other unwanted accidents will seriously affect not only Armenia, but also other countries of the South Caucasus and the Middle East, the Azerbaijani scientist warns.

Professor Islam Mustafayev, member of the Public Council under the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, told Trend that each of these countries will greatly suffer from the possible threat of the NPP.

"But Azerbaijan will suffer much more because the main rivers of the country, Kura and Araz, flow through Armenia," he emphasized.

Mustafayev alarrns that the toxic waste will enter the rivers first and the Caspian Sea then.

"This is very dangerous. Therefore, a public movement should be formed to prevent the threat and work comprehensively on the case,” Mustayev said.

Exploration period of the Metsamor NPP has reached its deadline and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is expected to determine with the further operation of the NPP this year. Therefore, professor calls on the public to voice its opinion on closing the NPP.

He mentioned that the countries of the region build new NPPs or destroy old ones constantly. That in fact opens up risks for smuggling. Armenians smuggle nuclear materials, particularly from Metsamor NPP as it was revealed recently.

“Various projects have been implemented to prevent such threats, in particular special training courses were conducted for customs officers, and special equipment was purchased and installed in the last 12-15 years. The country keeps the issue under a strict control. But 20 percent of our territory is under occupation, which creates certain problems, and opportunities to use these territories for various nefarious purposes,” Mustafayev noted.

IAEA implements its nuclear control over the member countries. However, Azerbaijan must use and increase all its capabilities in this regard.

William Arthurs, member of the British Institute of Energy Economics and Ziba Norman, Director of the Institute of Transatlantic & Caucasus Studies Institute told Trend about the dangerous impact of the outdated NPP for region.

The NPP is located in a highly dangerous area and a single earthquake can destroy the infrastructure of whole country and affect nearby states, they believe.

“It is almost unthinkable that an old nuclear power plant like Metsamor is still used as the main source of energy for Armenia. Continuing efforts to modernize the NPP while being aware of the unacceptable risks that it poses to Armenia itself and the region as a whole, is short-sighted and careless,” they noted.

Moreover, the experts mentioned that Armenia could become inhabited if the NPP is not closed on time and accident happens.

Metsamor NPP was built in 1970 put into operation in 1977 near the city of Metsamor, Armenia. It was closed after the earthquake of 1988, but the Armenian government reopened it in 1995. The NPP consists of two power generating units.

The European Union insists on closing the NPP offering 200 million Euro. Despite this, the NPP is still functioning as no alternative sources of energy exist in Armenia.

A campaign to stop the exploitation of Metsamor NPP started recently in change.org by activists could gain around 2,000 subscribes so far.

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