Medzamor (Armenia)

Map of Medzamor

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Medzamor former Armenia NPP hosts two PWR units type: WWER 440 V270.
Both units have been shutdown after the earthquake in 1989. Both units were mothballed during the following years.

Unit-2 was upgraded and restarted in 1996. During the following years several upgrading measures were elaborated supported by the TACIS program: eg fire protection, exchange of parts ( MSIVs), training for the operators.

Facilities in Medzamor

plantreactor typconstruction startoperation startshut down

In 2006 one event was classified as INES 1 according to the CNS-report of Armenia.


In 2006 two events were classified as INES 1 according to the CNS-report of Armenia.


Armenia has agreed to hand control of the financial management of its only nuclear power plant to Russia as part of a scheme to settle debts. Industry and Science and Technology Minister Klebanov, who announced the deal following talks about Armenia's $40 million debt to Russia for fuel supplies to the Medzamor plant, said Armenia would retain ownership of the plant but that Russia would manage its financial resources and income.


The Metsamor nuclear plant, which accounts for more than 40 percent of Armenia's annual electricity production, will be reactivated without receiving fresh nuclear fuel for the first time in its history.
The decision reflects serious difficulties in its protracted negotiations with Russia over fuel supplies, which have kept the Soviet-era facility operational for more than two decades..
Metsamor's only functioning reactor, located 35 kilometers west of the capital, Yerevan, was brought to a halt in October for regular maintenance and refueling. The Armenian Energy Ministry, confident of fresh Russian deliveries, hoped to replace one-third of the plant's fuel and bring it back on line within the next 45 days.
The Armenian Energy Minister announced on 10 January that, although the refueling has again been delayed, a new agreement has been reached to ship the Russian fuel to Armenia "in late April. But the Russians want Yerevan to repay $32 million in outstanding debt for their previous fuel supplies.
Metsamor will be reactivated in late January and operate with the remaining fuel until then. The next refueling is due to take place in May or June.
The Armenian government will purchase twice as many Russian uranium "cassettes" as originally planned so that Metsamor can produce energy for 300 consecutive days and not require another stoppage next winter. "This allows us to use the remaining fuel in an optimal manner, carry out maintenance and refueling in the summer months, and start a new production cycle that will last until the next summer [in 2004]," said the Energy Minister

Moscow had always backed Yerevan in its reluctance to shut down the Metsamor plant despite strong pressure from the European Union.
The EU believes that its Soviet-built reactor is located in a seismically active zone and is vulnerable to serious accidents. But Armenia, which had implicitly promised to decommission Metsamor in 2004, now insists that it is safe enough to operate for 10 more years. The authorities also argue that they have no alternative source of relatively cheap energy.
The Yerevan daily "Haykakan zhamanak" suggests that Russia is no longer interested in keeping Metsamor afloat after winning control of Armenia's largest thermal-power plant as part of a recent assets-for-debt agreement with the Armenian government. The plant was placed under Russian ownership along with four other state-run enterprises in payment of Armenia's $100 million debt.


An electrical fault triggered an automatic shutdown, but there was no threat to security at the plant. Several neighborhoods in the capital Erevan were left without power after the incident. The plant is to be hooked back into the national grid a few days later.


The EU struck a deal with Armenia's previous government to close down the plant by 2004, in exchange for 100 million Euro in subsidies to develop alternative energy sources.
There are concerns however that Armenia may not honor the commitment. A senior Armenian source said in April that the power station could remain in service until 2016.
Medzamor is one of the most dangerous nuclear plants in Europe, according to a November 2001 study based on security, site, finance and age, by the Austrian Institute for Applied Ecology.


In 2001 three events were classified as INES 1 according to the CNS-report of Armenia.


The French and German nuclear safety agencies, IPSN and GRS, are calling for further safety improvements to Metsamor-2.
Their joint statement says it is "imperative" to upgrade the unit - a VVER-440 - even for operation during a limited period.
French and German engineers have been evaluating American proposals for improvements which would cost about ECU 45 million - 10 million has already been granted by the EU and 4,5 million by the US.
Those sums would finance a start to the most urgent work, say IPSN and GRS namely, replacement of pressure relief valves for the pressurizer and steam generators; and strengthening of fire protection.
America switched off the twin-VVER-440 Metsamor plant in February 1989, following a severe earthquake.
Closure was political. The plant had operated uninterrupted and undamaged throughout the quake.
The upgrading, with mainly Russian backing, included improvements to seismic protection systems.


The manager of Armenia's Metsamor NPP says he is resigned to not re-opening the older VVER-440 unit at the station near Yerevan, even though he believes having the first unit in service would be better for the safety of Metsamor-2, which restarted 16 months ago. He said his country should devote its limited resources to planning a new reactor.
Adding to the problem of restarting the older unit, plant managers have been cannibalizing unit 1 for the refurbishing program at Metsamor-2, which restarted in November 1995. It was shut to respond to public fears after an earthquake and resuscitated when wars around the country shut off virtually all options for energy.
Last year, Azatian argued that restarting Metsamor-1, which shares control room space and other structures with unit 2, would provide greater safety for the plant as a whole as well as better stability for the grid. He also complained about the cost of keeping unit 1 in mothballs. But now, he acknowledges that it will probably prove impossible to resuscitate unit 1 in time for it to be useful.
Western governments opposed restart of Metsamor-2 because it was a first-generation VVER-440 in an isolated country, and refused to support the rehabilitation despite the country's dire energy situation. Russia came to the Armenians' rescue with assistance and a loan for fuel supply. Now that the unit is back on-line, the EU has agreed to finance upgrade work there through its TACIS program, and a safety analysis assistance project has begun with the Franco-German organization, Riskaudit.


Framatome will supply Nuhoms spent fuel storage casks to Armenia's Medzamor nuclear power plant under a FF 40-million (its8-million) contract signed in Paris January 26.
The 408-MW (NET) reactor is operating at 80% nominal power.
The Nuhoms casks and related equipment, to be operational by the end of 1997, are distained to hold 612 spent fuel assemblies already discharged from the two reactors. They must be moved from reactor pools to allow space for discharge of the fuel now being irradiated and future reloads. Framatome will be prime contractor for the project, responsible for engineering work; the equipment for the dry storage unit will be manufactured by its subsidiary, ATEA.
It is the first sale of Nuhoms casks for Framatome, which acquired the license for the system, the most-used dry storage system in the US, from Vectra Technologies Inc. (then Pacific Nuclear Systems) in 1993. Framatome is promoting the Nuhoms dry storage system, which it has adapted to storage of VVER fuel, throughout central and eastern Europe as a flexible solution for reactor operators needing a modular approach to spent fuel management. It is also one of the largest contracts ever signed by Framatome in central and eastern Europe.
Financing for the cask purchase will come from the French government under a combined grant-loan agreement concluded late last year; France will provide FF 15,5-million in grants and some FF 25-million in loans to be repaid over 40 years.
The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development's (EBRD) Nuclear Safety Account (NSA) has refused to include Medzamor among plants its contributors would fund. The EBRD´s banking division linked a loan for building a 300-MW gas-fired power plant at Hrazdan to the Medzamor-2 question, saying the loan could be canceled if the plant restarted without a clear blessing from western safety authorities.
In the years without the reactor, Armenian industry has undergone structural changes and consumption was reduced by 30% thanks to energy-saving measures, but the country has suffered from a lack of electricity, with only two or three hours of power some days. Wars on its borders have blocked fossil fuel deliveries.
Medzamor-2 represents roughly 30% of Armenia's total generating capacity at present, Chitechian said.
Armenia's heavy dependence on the nuclear plant remains a topic of concern in the West. The energy and economic situation of the country will make it difficult for (Armenian) authorities to decide its operation.


The Armenian State Commission, with VVER-440 experts from both Armenia and Russia, approved the criticality and very low power testing October 13, in concert with the Armenian State Nuclear Regulatory body.
Power generation is targeted for November.
The Russian government has supplied about US$ 13 million in credit to the Armenians for plant start-up.
Work included "a thorough seismic assessment" of the site and reinforcement of structures and components such as electrical panels and batteries to withstand ground acceleration up to 0,2 g. Loss-of-coolant accidents were reanalyzed and accident management guidelines developed. All monitoring equipment was replaced, and additional reactor protection system shutdown logic was added for water levels in the steam generators and for water and steam levels in the pressurizer.
The primary system containment, sealing gaskets and other components providing isolation were upgraded using materials and technology from Promatec Co. of the U.S. The reactor hall sprinkler system was modernized.
Electrical systems were upgraded seismically, including stabilized batteries provided by Varta Co., and emergency power feeds were divided into two independent channels.
As planned, Armenian and Russian operators took the Medzamor-2 VVER-440 critical in the night of October 26-27. The unit is scheduled for two weeks of very low power testing. If all goes well, it should be connected to the grid for the first time since 1989 in mid-November.


Armenia planes restart of its NPP. IAEA safety experts are concerned because it is uncertain what safety upgrades are being implemented. IAEA says the main backfits approved by the Armenian safety authority are hardware modifications covering primary circuit, protection & control systems, ECCS, thermal insulation, fire & explosion protection. Key questions are 1. whether the RPV should be annealed 2. the seismic resitance of the plant: final seismic parameters of the site will be obatined by the middle of 1995. According to the IAEA a number of recommendations regarding the seismic resistance should be implemented before restart.
Unit-1 should be seriously investigated. Based on the experiences of backfitting of the newer unit-2 it should be decided whether it is possible to restart unit-1.


Shutdown after the big earthquake in Armenia.


Shutdown after the big earthquake in Armenia.