Metsamor Nuclear Plant: the Armenian ticking threat
Metsamor Nuclear Plant, Armenia (source : https://ejatlas.org/conflict/metsamor-nuclear-power-plant)
In the evening of the 10th of September 2019, two earthquakes were recorded with a magnitude of 5,2 and 4,3 in Georgia. The Institute of Earth Sciences and Seismic Monitoring Center states that the epicenter of both was in Armenia, about 7-8 km from the Georgian border.
Whenever an earthquake is felt in the Caucasus, strong images and terrific memories come directly the people’s mind. Armenians remember the earthquake of 1988 (magnitude of 6,9), which devasted the entire Spitnak region, took between 38.000 lives and injured over 100.000 citizens. On the same moment, eyes were turned towards Metsamor, 100 km south of the epicenter, where lies one of the most threatening nuclear plants in the world. The Metsamor Nuclear Plant closed immediately but reopened in 1993, because of the lack of energy after the implementation of the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockade.
The plant currently provides 209,24 MW per month, representing about 40% of the Armenian energy supplies but is especially known for having threatening functioning issues. De facto, European Union’s observers encourage the Armenian government to shut it down entirely, in order to prevent any nuclear meltdown that would affect millions of lives in the whole region. Besides the functioning problems, the country lies on the converging line of the Arabic and Eurasian tectonic plates, which triggers a frequent earthquake activity.
In addition to that, Armenia’s isolated geographic position obliges it to develop energetic sovereignty. Being surrounded by Turkey, Azerbaijan and Iran with whom the diplomatic relation is more than tense, it is either dependent on its nuclear plant or on the Russian gas coming through Georgia. The Armenian government tries to develop its energetic transition towards renewable energy while fighting against energetic precarity in the most isolated areas. But since major investments are required, it decided in 2015 to extend the functioning of the Metsamor plant from 2020 to 2027.