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Armenian Metsamor NPP located in active tectonic fault zone – Azerbaijan’s ANAS

Gurban Yetirmishli

A large zone of active tectonic fault passes near Armenian Yerevan and the Metsamor nuclear power plant, Director General of the Republican Center of Seismological Service of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS), Gurban Yetirmishli said, Trend reports on Apr.29.

According to Yetirmishli, the estimated seismic potential of this zone is 7.5 on the Richter scale or 10 on the 12-point seismic scale (MSK-64).

He reminded that the magnitude of the earthquake that occurred in Armenia in 1988 was nearly 7.1 on the Richter scale, and the strength of the tremors was 10 on the 12-point seismic scale.

“A potentially possible earthquake of 10-point magnitude in Armenia, which can occur at any moment, can lead not only to an explosion at the power unit of the Metsamor nuclear power plant, but also to its complete destruction as a result of cracks on the earth’s surface from tremors,” noted the director general.

“It’s very difficult to imagine the scale of the tragedy that may occur,” he added.

Besides, Yetirmishli reminded that the operating life of the Metsamor NPP has long expired, and the requirement to close it is being discussed in Azerbaijan and neighboring countries.

“However, Armenia is trying to substantiate the possibility of continuing the operation of the NPP after repairs. The operation of a nuclear power plant is expensive for any state. Therefore, the question arises, how safe can Armenia operate it? It’s very difficult to say how a possible natural disaster will affect this nuclear power plant,” he further said. “The neighboring countries have the right to demand from the IAEA a report on the state of the Metsamor NPP, because any accident there would cause damage to the entire region. The biggest threat to the plant is a strong earthquake that may occur in Armenia.”

According to him, when compiling seismic zoning maps in the former USSR, including Armenian SSR, data on previously instrumentally recorded earthquakes were used.

“On the map of seismic zoning of the territory of the Armenian SSR, drawn up in 1980, two zones were identified according to the level of seismic hazard: 7-point and 8-point according to 12-point seismic scale,” Yetirmishli said.

He noted that from the compiled map of active tectonic faults it follows that an active tectonic fault zone passes near the city of Yerevan and the Metsamor nuclear power plant.

“This suggests that the nuclear power plant is located in a very dangerous seismic zone,” the director general added.

“Scientists and specialists from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and other neighboring states can protect the population of the region from a big disaster by insisting that the IAEA consider this problem,” сoncluded Yetirmishli.

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