Fukushima Sparks Concerns about Armenia's Nuclear Plant
With nuclear reactors dangerously boiling in earthquake-affected Japan, earthquake-prone Armenia is looking at Metsamor -- the Caucasus’ only, rusting nuclear power plant -- and asking "Can this happen here?"
The ripple effect of the Japan earthquake was registered as far away as in Armenia and Georgia. Mini-quakes and a mud volcano eruption that recently took place in Azerbaijan were unrelated to Japan's earthquake, however, local seismic activity watchers said.
Armenia’s nuclear officials have been quick to assure concerned citizens that Fukushima will not repeat itself in Metsamor. “Such a situation is impossible here, even in theory,” said Ashot Martirosian, head of Armenia’s State Committee on Nuclear Safety. Claiming that the plant can withstand an earthquake as powerful as Gyumri's 6.9-magnitude 1988 quake, he argued that Metsamor’s cooling system is safer than the one in Fukushima.
Former Metsamor Director Suren Azatian, however, said that Metsamor does not have the nuclear leak prevention shield that coats Fukushima reactors.
Plans are underway to replace the plant with a more modern facility.
Giorgi Lomsadze is a journalist based in Tbilisi, and author of Tamada Tales.
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