YEREVAN, October 18. / ARKA /. The Armenian government has made a key decision today to extend the service life of the Armenian nuclear power plant in Metsamor by another ten years, energy and natural resources minister Armen Movsisyan said.
“Our calculations show that the service life of the nuclear power plant can be extended by 10 years, given that the construction of the new unit will require as much time”, the minister said on Thursday after signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the governments of Armenia and the U.S. in the energy sector.
The minister said a plan of actions to extend the service life of the nuclear power plant is being discussed now.
On his side, U.S. ambassador to Armenia, John Heffern, said that the U.S. shares the position of the European Union that the plan should be shut down by 2016, “but if you have decided to extend its service life for another 10 years, we are ready to assist in its safe operation”.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed after a recurrent meeting in Yerevan of the U.S.-Armenia Task Force. The document was signed by Armen Movsisian and John Heffern.
The ambassador said the document proves the readiness of the U.S. to cooperate with Armenia in the field of energy. He said together with the Armenian government the United States is doing and will continue to do everything possible for the safe operation of the facility.
According to Armenian government figures, Yerevan received over $130 million worth of assistance from the United States, the European Union, Russia and other international bodies to upgrade the plant’s safety.
The Metsamor plant located some 30 kilometers west of Yerevan, was built in the 1970s but was closed following a devastating earthquake in 1988 that killed some 25,000 people and devastated much of northern Armenia. One of the plant’s two VVER 440-V230 light-water reactors was reactivated in 1995. Armenian authorities said they will build a new nuclear power plant to replace the aging Metsamor plant. The new plant is supposed to operate at twice the capacity of the Soviet-constructed facility. Metsamor currently generates some 40 percent of Armenia's electricity. But the government has yet to attract funding for the project that was estimated by a U.S.-funded feasibility study to cost at as much as $5 billion. -0