The discussion of the benefits and dangers of nuclear power has increased since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which was triggered by Japan’s 2011 Tōhoku earthquake. While nuclear technology has been improved since the Chernobyl disaster, one power plant has been threatening South Caucasus. In the shadow of Mount Ararat stands a 31-year-old nuclear plant. The Metsamor NPP is South Caucasus’ only nuclear power plant, located in an area that includes the fertile agricultural region of the Aras River valley, just 16 kilometers from the Turkish border and 36 kilometers west of Yerevan in Armenia. The Metsamor NPP is one of a mere handful of remaining nuclear reactors of its kind that were built without primary containment structures. All five of these first-generation water-moderated Soviet units are past or near their original retirement ages, but one salient fact sets Armenia’s reactor apart from the four in Russia: Metsamor is in the midst of Earth’s most earthquake-prone terrain.
Armenia has miraculously escaped from a nuclear disaster in 1982 at Metsamor.
Need for Nuclear Energy
Regional conflicts that broke out after independence left the landlocked Armenia dependent on the aging reactor.