My Response to "Armenia reaffirms plans for a new nuclear power plant"
The Armenian Reporter, June 2, 2007
I am writing this letter-commentary as a member of the concerned public, as an environmental scientist/engineer and as an Armenian-American. I am asking from every reader of this letter to actively intervene on behalf of the Armenian people on the issue of constructing a new nuclear power station in Armenia. President Kocharian has decided, without consulting public opinion or considering the will of its citizens, that Armenia needs a new nuclear power station. Yes, Armenia needs new sources of energy, however the old nuclear power station can be replaced by a thermal power station based on gas - a much less expensive and much SAFER alternative. Since both gas and nuclear fuel have to be imported (Armenia has neither), there is no advantage of building a nuclear plant from the point of view of making Armenia energy independent. In fact, it is more dangerous to transport nuclear fuel over long distances than to transport gas.
Consider the risks of building a nuclear power station:
a) in an earthquake zone without the technology of making the plant's foundation earthquake proof.
b) in a conflict zone, constantly under the threat of war or of terrorist attacks.
c) radioactive contamination of the environment as a result of the operation of the plant and also from waste storage sites.
There are people in the government of Armenia and of Russia, who have proposed to mine and to mill uranium in Armenia (apparently, Armenia has some uranium deposits). Even then, uranium enrichment will be done outside of Armenia, hence Armenia will have to import its nuclear fuel again (and in addition, will have all the radioactive contamination from the mining and the milling of uranium, see previously published article).
Finally, consider the advantages of developing alternative sources of energy, such as wind, for example. Old Soviet studies show that Armenia can obtain up to 1/3 rd of its energy from wind power. Why not invest in wind energy, instead of promoting the interests of the nuclear industry at the expense of the public? It is the public in Armenia who will be paying the high cost of the nuclear-derived electricity, in addition to the high cost of storing and isolating the nuclear waste. Also, Armenia, being small in size, is running out of space for the storage of its nuclear waste. Lastly, Armenia still lacks a vigorous radiation-monitoring program, such that the public, in general, is unaware of the levels and the extent of radioactive contamination that already exists in Armenia.
I am hoping that every reader will write letters, make telephone calls and do their utmost, so that the building of a new nuclear power plant will NOT become a reality.
Dr. Anne Shirinian