BY DAILY SABAH
Crews from disaster agencies, hospitals and the police staged a drill on Thursday in the eastern Turkish province of Kars, against a potential nuclear leak from Metsamor, an Armenian power plant just 16 kilometers (10 miles) away from the border province.
Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) staff, doctors, nurses, paramedics, a search and rescue team and police officers joined the drill. First responders donned hazardous material suits in the drill in which an earthquake scenario was played out. Teams responded to 20 people affected by the leak after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in three villages located on the border, as part of the drill. “Affected” villagers were taken to a tent camp by crews wearing head-to-toe protective suits. Onur Budak, director of Akyaka State Hospital whose staff joined the drill, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that it was the first comprehensive drill against chemical, biological and nuclear threats in the area.
Metsamor is Armenia’s only nuclear power plant and produces more than a third of the country’s electricity. The European Union has repeatedly called on Armenia to shut down the aging plant, citing security concerns. Instead, Armenia decided to extend the plant’s operations until 2026.
Following an earthquake in 1988, Metsamor was closed. However, in spite of widespread international protests, it was reactivated in 1995. Armenia earlier rejected the EU’s call to shut down Metsamor in exchange for 200 million euros ($203 million) to help meet the country’s energy needs.
Türkiye has earlier urged Armenia to shut down the site due to the imminent danger the outdated plant poses to the country. It sent an official appeal to the IAEA five years ago concerning the shutdown of the plant. The IAEA and Armenian experts had agreed that the plant could remain operational until 2016 before Armenia decided to extend its lifespan to 2026.