By Sara Rajabova
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) granted new seismic stations to Armenia for improving seismic safety around the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant.
IAEA, in order to increase the seismic safety of the Armenian Metsamor nuclear power plant under a national program of technical cooperation has granted six new seismic stations GURALP 6TD for improving the telemetric seismic network, placed and operating around the power plant, Armenian media reported citing the press service of the Armenian Ministry of Emergency Situations.
Metsamor is one of the few remnants of the old Soviet nuclear reactors built without primary containment structures. Only a few of these first generation water-moderated reactors are still in use today, being past or near their original retirement ages, but what sets the Metsamor nuclear power plant apart from all the others is the fact that it's located in a potentially hazardous seismic zone.
Metsamor NPP was built in 1970. After the devastating earthquake in Spitak in 1988 it was closed, but in 1995, the operation of the station was resumed and a second reactor was launched despite international criticism.
The lifespan of Metsamor expired in 2010, but Armenia and IAEA experts have agreed to continue the operation of the plant until 2016.
The nuclear power plant poses a serious threat to the security of the entire region, especially to the neighboring countries - Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Therefore, the three countries demand immediate shutdown of the plant in view of the danger.
According to environmentalists and scientists from all over the region, seismic activity in the area renders Metsamor nuclear plant an extreme risk even if a new generation reactor were to be built. Given the large number of minor earthquakes in the area in the last ten years, as well as the intensification of the seismic processes, scientists predict that in the event of a major accident at Metsamor, not only Armenia, but also other countries of the South Caucasus and Middle East states would be severely affected.