Today, at the Government’s House of Receptions, President Serzh Sargsyan met with the Chairman of the RA Presidential Nuclear Energy Safety Council Adolf Birkhofer, who has arrived in Armenia to participate in the regular session of the Nuclear Energy Safety Council (NESC).
The President of Armenia and Chairman of NESC spoke about planned works aimed at the enhancement of the security level of the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (ANPP) and the current state of the Plant. With this regard, the parties stated that the ANPP has the necessary projected level of aseismic stability. Serzh Sargsyan and Adolf Birkhofer spoke also about the issues related to the future operations of the ANPP and construction of a new energy unit, cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including the results of the OSART mission.
After the meeting, President Serzh Sargsyan and Chairman of NESC Adolf Birkhofer participated in the session of the NESC Council and made opening remarks. The President saluted members of the Council – an independent advisory body comprising scientists, experts of international repute and all participants of the meeting. At the outset, Serzh Sargsyan informed the participants and expressed profound regrets on passing away in January of the NESC member, renowned scientist, Academician of the RA Academy of Sciences Hamlet Vardapetian, who contributed significantly to the establishment and development of theoretical and practical experiments in the area of nuclear physics. The President suggested that the attendees observe a minute of silence in tribute to his memory. Afterwards, he presented a new member of the Council, Academician of the RA Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Physics and Mathematical Sciences, Professor Robert Avagyan and wished him successful and productive tenure.
The President underscored that it would be difficult to overestimate the importance of cooperation in the Council format, considering a special role which the nuclear energy is playing in ensuring energy security of our country.
He hailed the activities of the Council since the very moment of its establishment and noted that in this period of time, a great amount of work has already been accomplished. He thanked the members of the Council for their invaluable assistance in the enhancement of the nuclear and radiation safety level of the Armenian Nuclear Energy Power Plant. Serzh Sargsyan thanked also the IAEA, governments of the Russian Federation, US, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Italy as well as the European Commission for their assistance.
“The Republic of Armenia has been constantly improving its domestic legislation and has been fulfilling in good faith her international obligations. In May 2013, the Parliament of Armenia ratified the law on “Amendments to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Substances” of 2005 and made amendments to the “Law on Safe Use of Nuclear Energy for Peaceful Purposes” which are related to the registration and safeguarding of nuclear substances. Soon, the Governments of the Republic of Armenia and Russian Federation will sign an agreement on cooperation in the area of nuclear safety. It will allow to
• develop the RA infrastructure for nuclear safety in the context of preparing for the construction of new energy units based on the Russian designs,
• train, re-train and upgrade specialists of nuclear safety, taking into consideration the IAEA recommendations,
• expand the framework of cooperation in the area of nuclear energy.
In October 2012, the Governments of the Republic of Armenia and the United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding pertinent to the energy, including nuclear energy area. The document allows our two countries to cooperate more closely in the area of peaceful use of nuclear energy. Two successful projects have already been implemented in the framework of the mentioned above Memorandum.
Huge work has been done with the assistance of the IAEA and international experts aimed at the enhancement of the aseismic stability of the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (ANPP). In 2012, during the routine-preventive renovations installed were supporting constructions to enhance the aseismic stability of the main structures and components which are pivotal from the safety point of view.
It concluded the second, final phase of works of the Program on the Reassessment of the ANPP second unit aseismic stability which was carried out in compliance with the IAEA technical requirements. Thus, the ANPP has acquired the required level of aseismic stability.
The plan on the upgrading of the ANPP operational safety was reviewed based on the recommendations of the OSTAR mission conducted in 2011. At the moment, the ANPP has implemented the main recommendations and instructions of the mission. In 2013, the IAEA OSART sent another mission which has registered sufficient progress in the conducted works but also has raised contentious issues related, particularly, to the management of radioactive waste.
The experts has already started to develop a strategy on safe management of the radioactive waste and used nuclear fuel with the technical assistance of the European Union.
I would also like to inform you, that this year the Republic of Armenia has ratified the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.
With the assistance of the European Union, the Armenian side has completed stress works on the operational energy block. The report is presented for discussions to the RA Nuclear Safety Regulation Committee. Along with the expert opinion of the Committee, by the end of this year it will be presented to the relevant bodies of the European Union.
Currently, works on the assessment of the monitoring of the current state of the ANPP main systems, structures and components and evaluation of the residual stock are underway. The program of the extension of the designed operational term of the second unit of the ANPP has been sent to the Government of Armenia.
In September, the Russian organizations started works on the extension of the operational term of the second energy unit of the Metsamor nuclear power plant. For us, it is really very important.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to suggest the members of the Russian delegation that in the works aimed at the extension of the work-term of the ANPP second energy unit they also intensely engage specialized organizations from Armenia.
Armenia reiterates her intention to develop nuclear energy which has a special place in the energy development program. Only existence of the ANPP in the system of basic electric power production will allow us to maintain the proper level of the country’s energy security and independence,” President Sargsyan stressed in his remarks.
Noting that the Nuclear Safety Management State Committee along with the ANPP, HayAtom Institute, and Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources has accomplished considerable amount of works, the President of Armenia underscored that from now on, the RA Minister of Energy and Natural Resources has to enforce greater control over the timely and due implementation by the leadership of the ANPP of the directions issued by the Nuclear Energy Security Council and IAEA missions. In particular, it is essential to expeditiously carry out works to provide the corresponding amount of the medium active waste and improve the conditions for its storage, as well as to take steps towards upgrading the level of the thermal volume density.
The President spoke also about the training of the ANPP operational staff and importance of creating necessary conditions for their full retraining, noting that works in that direction have already commenced. To bring them to conclusion, Serzh Sargsyan instructed the leadership of the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant with the assistance of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources to ensure the engagement of all necessary means.
The President of Armenia invited attention of the ANPP leadership to the fact that it is necessary together with the organizations working in the area of nuclear energy to organize works in a fashion which will allow to maintain and develop the existing infrastructure.
After the President’s opening remarks, the Director of the ANPP and the Head of the RA Nuclear Safety Management Committee provided detailed information to the members of the Council on the implementation of the assignments issued during the previous session. The participants of the meeting received also reports on the activities of the RA Nuclear Safety Management Committee and Armenian Nuclear Power Plant.