Russia completes radwaste management survey at Armenian NPP

6 September 2017

Russia's Federal Centre for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (FTSNRB) and Federal State Unitary Enterprise RADON (responsible for managing radioactive waste in Russia) have completed a survey of radioactive waste management systems at the Armenian NPP (ANPP) near Metsamor.  

The results of the study will inform Armenia's State Committee on Nuclear Safety Management's plans to extend the operating life of unit 2 at the plant. Armenia NPP consists of two VVER-440 reactors, the first of which was shut down in 1989 and is awaiting decommissioning. Russia and Armenia agreed in December 2014 to cooperate on the extension of Metsamor 2.  The Russian specialists began the comprehensive survey of solid and liquid storage facilities in 2014 which included inspecting the contents of all radwaste repositories. “Often, it was difficult to do physically, due to the specifics of their design and layout….We also had to develop specialised equipment and sampling techniques,” said FTSNRB expert Alexander Ermakov.

Based on the results of the work, the State Committee agreed to recommendations from the experts which included a comprehensive solution to the tasks of reorganising and modernising systems for radwaste treatment for the extended operating period of Metsamor 2. The plant plans to implement the proposed projects, and FTSNRB is ready to act as a technological operator in their implementation,  said FTSNRB Director General Andrey Golinly.

Metsamor's  two VVER-440 reactors, commissioned in 1977 and 1980, were both closed down in March 1989, after the December 1988 earthquake. Unit 2 resumed operation in November 1995 in the face of an acute energy crisis. In 2016, it came to the end of its 30-year design life, but in September 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and Armenian experts had agreed to extend the life of the unit for ten years. In May 2015 the Armenian parliament approved a contract with Russia related to the life extension. A $300 contract was signed with Rosatom in June 2015. The project is being financed through loans of $270m and a $30m grant from Russia. Laws are now being drawn up relating to the decommissioning of unit 1. 

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