Armenia and Russia discuss new nuclear power plants, radioactive waste and decommissioning

At the end of June, high-level Armenian and Russian delegations held comprehensive discussions on the project of building a new nuclear power station within the framework of the Memorandum of understanding reached between HAEK CJSC, operator of the Armenian National Nuclear Power Station (ANPP), and Russian Overseas Companies.

The ANPP currently operating at Mesamore was built in the 1970s with two Soviet-supplied VVER-440-V230 units, but was shut down after a major earthquake in 1988. However, after severe energy shortages, unit 2 was brought back into service in 1995 with Russian help. In March 2014, the Armenian government decided to extend the life of the plant until 2026. Most of the overhaul (through 2019) will be financed by inter-state loans from Russia. Building a new nuclear power plant has long been part of Armenia's overall plan, although money has been an obstacle.

The Joint working Group is chaired by Armenia's Deputy Minister of Territorial Management and Infrastructure, Mr. Hakob-vardanyan. The Russian delegation was led by Viktor Kolesnikov, project manager and advisor to the President of the Energy Project of Rosatom. Both sides agree to prepare a pre-feasibility study report. To this end, normative and technical documentation and licensing issues will be studied.

The representative of the Armenian Nuclear Safety Regulatory Commission outlined Armenia's current procedures for the licensing and design, siting, construction and safety assurance of nuclear facilities. In the course of the discussions, a variant of the typical standard VVER powerplant with a capacity of 1000-1300 MW was considered, and Rosatom made a comprehensive proposal to Armenia in the nuclear backend area.

Also at the end of June, a Rosatom delegation led by Nikolai Spassky, Deputy General Manager and Director of International Activities, undertook a working visit to Armenia. As part of the Comprehensive Plan of Russia-Armenia cooperation on energy and non-energy projects signed in April 2022, experts from TVEL, Rosatom's fuel company, presented detailed proposals on radioactive waste management and ANPP decommissioning.

Armenia and Russia discuss new nuclear power plants, radioactive waste and decommissioning

The Meeting was attended by Armenia's Minister of Land Management and Infrastructure, Genel-Sanossian, as well as representatives from ANPP and various ministries. The meeting presented a report to Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan. Spassky noted that for the first time the issues of decommissioning and radioactive waste management had been comprehensively addressed within the framework of bilateral cooperation. Considering these issues in the context of the sustainable development of nuclear energy is one of the key aspects. "As a result of this visit, a working group has been established to broaden the field and form a priority plan for further cooperation in this area," he said.

An important task, says Edward Nikitin, director of TVEL's nuclear and radiological Decommissioning programme, is to "develop a common approach to the implementation of such projects and the coordinated and synchronized development of national radioactive waste management systems".

As a result of the visit, agreement was reached on a technical visit to ANPP to address issues related to decommissioning preparations, the development of a radioactive waste management system, including the prospect of establishing a radioactive waste disposal facility. The visit was planned as part of TVEL's responsibility for the management of radioactive waste, spent nuclear fuel and decommissioning of nuclear facilities, with the participation of rusATOM-International Network, JSC Rusatom Service and other nuclear industry organizations.

Since 2019, TVEL has become an industry consolidator in the "decommissioning and Related radioactive waste management" business area. In 2021, the Economic Commission of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) also appointed TVEL as the CIS Base for the Management of decommissioning of spent Nuclear Fuel, Radioactive Waste and Nuclear and Radiological Hazardous Facilities.

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