Thursday, July 27 2017 12:47
Emmanuil Mkrtchyan

Armenian NPP: where is the myth, and where is the reality?

Armenian NPP: where is the myth, and where is the reality?

ArmInfo. The implementation of the program to extend the life of the second power unit of the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant is one of the most important projects in Armenia, which can be put on a par with such major infrastructure projects as the construction of the North-South road and the creation of the Russia-Georgia-Armenia-Iran energy corridor. All these projects are aimed at a significant economic strengthening of the country, which would be impossible without strengthening economic security, as well as its most important component , which is the energy security. 

It's not a secret that the government's activities on the active implementation of such strategic projects are widely supported by a number of partner countries, as well as by authoritative international organizations.  This causes discontent of some unfriendly neighbors who closely monitor any economic successes of Armenia. And since it is not possible to interfere directly with the activities of the country's leadership, the opponents chose Metsamor NPP as their target, knowing perfectly well what advantage the Armenian economy is given by this station. So the media is replicated information, backed up by absolutely inconclusive for professionals, but seeming to be significant for ordinary citizens, the theses about the alleged danger of the Metsamor nuclear power plant. We offer the simple reader to learn how to separate the grains from the chaff: to dispel their doubts and independently understand the problems, based on real scientific arguments, and not on the fictions of a group of individuals who have adopted anti-Armenian intentions. 

So: what are the freights  the international community and to some extent our population  make   the same propaganda with in the "anti-interests" of Armenia? I want to make a reservation right away that most of these myths were used in the late 1980s, when the public resonance that they created led to the closure of the nuclear power plant, which provoked the strongest economic crisis that threw the country back half a century ago. 

 

Myth 1: The station stands on a tectonic fault and will not withstand a strong earthquake. 

 

Ofcourse, it would be absolutely absurd to deny that the entire territory of Armenia is located in the seismological zone. Yes, earthquakes happen in our country. In memory of the Armenian people, the events of the tragedy that occurred in 1988 in the town of Spitak will forever remain. A number of experts for some reason completely forget the fact that the epicenter of that earthquake was located hundreds of kilometers from the station itself - and it sustained a natural disaster, continuing its work. The fact is that the Armenian nuclear power plant is an industrial facility capable of withstanding a 9-point earthquake on the Richter scale, while the reserve level of security is much higher. From the destructive seismic effect, the station is protected by powerful strata of basalt and slag 400 meters thick and long up to the banks of the Araks River, as well as hydraulic shock absorbers which, in the event of an earthquake, rigidly connect the foundation of the station and the equipment, preventing the latter from moving under the impact of jolts and inertia. In 2015, an expert commission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conducted an examination of the probabilistic safety analysis (PSA) for the second power unit of the Armenian? NPP.  The International Commission came to the conclusion that the parameters of the seismic safety of the ANPP are fully consistent with IAEA standards. After the accident at the Fukushima NPP in Armenia, a complex geophysical survey was conducted with the involvement of leading experts from 7 countries.  Their results are posted on the IAEA official website and testify to the absence of active tectonic faults under the site of the ANPP. In addition, after the second commissioning of the N2 power unit at the end of 1995, for the first time in the history of the world, a significant work was carried out at the station to introduce the newest security systems.  According to Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, it is unfortunate that some states, in particular Azerbaijan and Turkey, show disrespect for the IAEA and its decisions: "These states are trying to use international platforms for their narrow political and propaganda purposes, voicing unfounded accusations against Armenia"

 

Myth 2: The reactor installedis the same that  same at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which will inevitably lead to a catastrophe in the near future. 

 

The difference between the power plants at the Armenian NPP and the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl was not stated only by a  lazy one, but many still continue to assert that the stations have the same reactors.  Let's go in order. First of all, it should be noted that during the operation of the Armenian NPP since 1995 (the year of its re-launch), there have been no recorded cases of emergency or emergency. That is, for more than 20 years the station has been operating normally. At both units of the Armenian NPP, including the upgraded 2-nd, reactors of the VVER-440 type are installed. This is a fundamentally different type of reactor than the one that was installed at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, so the repetition of the scenario of the Chernobyl accident at the ANPP is technically excluded. In addition, the VVER-400 reactors are different from the BWR reactors installed at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Let us give the floor to a specialist.

 

Myth 3: Absence of financial and material resources in Armenia does not provide an opportunity to maintain station security As it is known, Armenia together with Russia are working on the modernization of nuclear power plants. 

 

Modernization is not only the replacement of old equipment with a new, but also a large set of works aimed at ensuring even greater reliability and safety of the nuclear power plant. These works are carried out jointly with Armenian specialists by specialists of the Russian company "Rusatom Service", specializing in the maintenance of nuclear power plants built on Russian projects.  The ex-general director of the Armenian station Suren Azatyan notes that from 1993 to date more than $ 200 million has been invested in improving the safety of the Armenian NPP. The funds were provided by the US Department of Energy, the European Union, the Russian Federation. Since the second power unit was restarted in 1995, more than 1,400 measures were taken to improve its safety. Another $ 300 million will be invested in the project to extend the life of the power unit N2 of the ANPP. As follows from these figures, the statements of "experts" about the lack of money to maintain the station's work do not correspond to reality. All these slanderous insinuations can have only one answer - the answer is not ours, as the parties concerned. This is the answer and not just an answer, but numerous assessments and testimonies of the most authoritative organization in the field of nuclear energy - the IAEA. The IAEA Nuclear Safety Expert Group recently completed an assessment of long-term operational safety at the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant. According to the findings of this organization, which was represented by a group of specialists from Argentina, Bulgaria, Canada, India, Ukraine and the IAEA itself, the functioning of ANPP meets all international standards. Programs related to the long-term operation of the station, issues related to human resources and management were considered separately. Experts identified the pluses in the work of the station, among which the programs of certification of seismic safety and security modernization. A number of recommendations were also provided to improve long-term operational safety. For example, a methodology should be developed and implemented at the ANPP, according to which all safety-related systems should be evaluated for long-term operation. The leadership of the ANPP expressed its readiness to comply with all recommendations and asked the IAEA to schedule the next mission in about 18 months. The report will be reviewed at the IAEA headquarters, and the final report will be submitted within three months. 

 

Myth 4: Water used in nuclear power plants, poisoned by radiation, irrigates fields of Ararat valley farmers, and radioactive materials are disposed of in the native Azerbaijani occupied territories. 

 

Armenia, like all normal countries, is not going to cut the branch, onSits, and attaches great importance to the strengthening of the nuclearSecurity and implementation of international legal instruments onNational and international levels, including, and by creatingViable national legislation in this area. All activities of the Armenian NPP are regulated by a number of international legal acts. The safety standards of the ANPP ensure that radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel from the station do not pose any danger to either Azerbaijan or the region as a whole. Therefore, statements that because of the work of the station in the region there is an increased radiation background in dozens of times, and the mutant fish are floating in the rivers, look just a raging fantasy and an attempt to give out what is desired for the reality. The station passes annual inspections, during which experts measure the parameters of the environment. Further, these reports are published in free access.  Since the station is functioning until our days, and there are no resolutions on its closure, it means that there is only one conclusion: the Armenian NPP does not present any threat to the environment and the population. In addition, we should not forget that the principles of ensuring safety at the ANPP mean that even the theoretical possibility of exporting nuclear fuel or substances from the territory of the station is completely excluded. Armenia adopted a number of changes in the government's decisions in 2015, which dealt with the export of radioactive materials and import licensing rules, the rules for the physical protection of radioactive materials, the physical protection of the Armenian nuclear power plant and nuclear materials, and increased security. Regarding radioactive waste, based on IAEA recommendations for the ANPP, a "Strategy for the Management of Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel" was developed. Therefore, the disposal of spent radioactive materials is also under the control of authoritative international organizations.

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