Armenia said Sept. 13 it would extend the life of its ageing nuclear power plant, despite safety concerns over the Soviet-era facility in an active seismic zone.
“The atomic power station will operate until 2026,” Armenia’s energy minister Armen Movsisyan told journalists. Earlier this month, President Serzh Sarkisian reached an agreement with Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom to help keep the plant running beyond its original closing date of 2016. Last year, Armenia had postponed the plant’s closure until 2020.
The European Union has repeatedly called for the plant to be closed down, arguing that it poses a threat to the region.
Armenian authorities say that the plant has undergone considerable renovations over the past decade and has been passed fit by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Built in the 1970s, the Metsamor plant is located in one of the most earthquake-prone regions on the planet, some 30 kilometres (19 miles) west of Yerevan. The facility – which provides the tiny Caucasus nation with around 40 percent of its power – was closed for around seven years following a devastating earthquake in 1988.
Movsisyan said that a new facility would be built over the next decade to eventually replace the Metsamor plant.