By Hovannes Shoghikian
The nuclear power station at Metsamor was reactivated on Saturday after a one-day emergency stoppage which officials attributed to dangerous voltage fluctuations on its internal power supply network.
Its director, Gagik Markosian, told RFE/RL that the plant’s automated safety system cut off supplies of nuclear-generated energy to the national power grid and stopped its sole operating reactor on Friday morning. He said this occurred moments after the system detected volatility in an incoming transmission line supplying electricity to various Metsamor services.
“We can now say that our normal work regime has been restored,” Markosian said, adding that Metsamor resumed supplies to the national power distribution network on Saturday afternoon.
Markosian also downplayed the accident’s implications for the plant’s safety, saying that it is the first emergency of its kind registered in the last three years. Metsamor’s Soviet-designed light-water reactor was most recently brought to a halt and promptly reactivated in similar circumstances in April 2003. Armenian officials blamed that on unstable electricity supplies from neighboring Iran which allegedly caused voltage fluctuations on a power line connected to Metsamor.
Although Metsamor accounts for nearly 40 percent of electricity generated in Armenia, its brief stoppage did not lead to nationwide power shortages. Officials at the Armenian Energy Ministry say other major power plants made up for the shortfall by boosting their electricity supplies less than 30 minutes after Metsamor was disconnected from the distribution network.
The Armenian government plans to keep Metsamor operational for another decade despite facing strong pressure from the United States and the European Union which believe that the facility fails to meet modern safety standards and must be shut down as soon as possible.