|Source: SusanAstray on Flickr|
Armenia's Aging Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant Alarms Caucasian Neighbors
The USSR might have imploded two decades ago, but debris from its headlong industrialization drive litter the post-Soviet landscape, and nothing more unsettles the population of the fifteen new nations carved out of the Soviet Union than its nuclear legacy.
The poster child for Caucasian nuclear concerns is Armenia's aging Metsamor nuclear power plant, which provides nearly 40 percent of the country's electricity.
The facility has not only alarmed neighboring Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan but begun to receive international notice as well - on 11 April National Geographic ran a story entitled "Is Armenia's Nuclear Plant the World's Most Dangerous?"
Metsamor, 20 miles west of the capital Erevan and 10 miles from the Turkish border, encapsulates the dilemma facing many energy-poor nations heavily dependent on nuclear power - unlike Germany, they do not have the cash or alternatives needed to shutter such facilities and consequently, keep them running while crossing their fingers.
Metsamor, which began operations in 1976, contains two VVER-400 V230 376 megawatt nuclear reactors generating about 2 million kilowatt hours of energy annually. Many environmentalists regard it as an accident waiting to happen. The Armenian government closed Metsamor's Unit 1 in February 1989 and Unit 2 the next month following a massive December 1988 earthquake which killed more than 25,000, left much of northern Armenia in ruins and caused more than $4 billion in damage.