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THE HALF-LIFE OF METSAMOR Armenia’s Nuclear Power Plant and City Sarine Vosgueritchian
A [cover image] Image of a residential block with the smoke from teh cooling towers of the Armenian NPP looming behind. Source: Katharina Roters
When cities and population in the USSR were growing, they decided to build nuclear power plants where civilization was thriving and at the farthest corners of the empire. The Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in the new closed city of Metsamor, Armenia was one of them. The power plant was planned in 1968 by Soviet engineers and the city was designed and planned completely from scratch by Armenian Architect, Martin Mikhaelyan. The fate of the city has always been linked to the power plant in every aspect; the city can exist without the power plant but as I will explain below, this can lead to catastrophe. That said, can the power plant exist without the city? Can infrastructure exist without the people building it, feeding it, and serving it through labor and time? Several environmental and political disasters have had a direct effect on the functioning of the NPP and further, the existence of the city. After the 1988 Spitak earthquake and growing Green Movements in Armenia, the powerplant was decommissioned. Several years later, the fall of the USSR and the Nagorno-Karabakh war led to the closing of Azerbaijan’s borders which resulted in an energy crisis in Armenia. Four years later, one of the two nuclear reactors were reactivated, as the government saw it as the best solution to the energy crisis. Today, the powerplant is still functioning, beyond its initially planned life span and the question of its existence is looming, the city is in limbo. The advent of industrialization in the USSR facilitated the building of factories and new urban settlements around these industries. I will look at the first chapter of Sonya Schmid’s book Vosgueritchian | 3
01 Sonja D. Schmid, Producing Power: The Pre-Chernobyl History of the Soviet Nuclear Industry (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015), 20-21.
02 Foucault 2010, cited in Brian Larkin, “The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure,” Annual Review of Anthropology 42, no. 1 (2013): pp. 327-343, https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-anthro-092412-155522, 328. 03 Schmid, 18. 04 W. G. Davey, Nuclear Power in the Soviet Bloc (Springfield, VA: NTIS, 1982), 2.
“Producing Power: The Pre-Chernobyl History of the Soviet Nuclear Industry” which is called “Envisioning a Nuclear-Powered State.” Schmid unravels the main reason behind the beginning of seeking nuclear power and how massive and long-term investments were the backbone of USSR’s nuclear vision.  The promise of science and technology and the vision of a state powered by advancements in both sectors was deeply ingrained in the USSR. According to Brian Larkin, “Infrastructures are interesting because they reveal forms of political rationality that underlie technological projects which give rise to an “apparatus of governmentality”.”  When nuclear power was gaining visibility around the world, more power was needed than ever in the USSR.  Nuclear power was seen as the ideal way to emancipate the USSR from its neighboring countries and its dependencies on coal, oil, and fuel resources from said nations. The vision of the secure growth of a nation depended on its self-sustaining powers. One of the benefits of nuclear power was its fuel being a concentrated energy source, easy to transport at low cost.  But in the process of searching for the most efficient solution to energy production, environmental and health risks were completely ignored. Chernobyl and its Byproducts
B Construction of the Armenian Nuclear Reactor and cooling towers.
C View of the atomic city. Source: Katharina Roters 4
Metsamor was one of the products of the nuclear boom era. Construction of the powerplant started in the same year as that of Chernobyl and both were connected to the power grid in 1977. Two different reactor types were built at the same time accompanied by the construction of worker cities. Years later, the nuclear industry can be considered one of the greatest collateral damages of the USSR. The Soviet Union has dissolved around three decades ago but the legacy left by its nuclear industry is still a matter of extreme controversy among its former territories and its neighboring countries. “Chernobyl was more than a single disaster…. It was the first highly visible crack in the Soviet Union.” 
In describing the lessons learned from Chernobyl, Grigori Medvev, a nuclear power expert said, “In the process of operating a nuclear power station, they have to take vast numbers of independent and crucial decisions, sometimes involving great risk, to save the reactor unit, to emerge unscathed from a crisis or from a tricky transitional regime. Unfortunately, no instructions and regulations can encompass the enormous variety of conceivable combinations of regimes and mishaps that may occur.”  The Chernobyl disaster was one of the biggest catastrophes that fell upon the nation. “The disaster at Chernobyl awakened the Soviet Union to the environmental crisis it faced”  and was the primary incentive for the mitigation and addition of more detailed extensive regulations related to pollution and the wasting of natural resources. Eventually, the reactors of many power plants were updated after the Chernobyl disaster and adjusted to minimize the risk that comes with nuclear energy. But how safe is the safest power plant?
05 Stephen Weeks, “The Chernobyl Disaster Was the Fatal Blow to the USSR,” in Perspectives on Modern World History Chernobyl, ed. David Erik Nelson (Detroit: Greenhaven, 2010), 115.
06 Grigorii Medvedev, The Truth about Chernobyl (New York: Basic Books, 1991), 258. 07 Tamara C. Gureghian, “Medzamor: Weighing the Reopening of Armenia’s Unstable Nuclear Power Plant and the Duties of the International Community,” The Villanova Environmental Law Journal 5, no. 1 (1994): pp. 163-202, 173.
Risks and Rewards: The Power of a Utopic Vision
Blowers describes nuclear oases as “areas that experience actual or potential radioactive contamination and whose inhabitants are exposed to the possibility of impacts from radioactivity.”  Nuclear power plants are not the only nuclear oases, any industrial plant that involves extraction, processing, reprocessing fuel or nuclear energy in addition to nuclear waste storage facilities are part of the umbrella of nuclear oases. That said, a nuclear power plant is where the ultimate amount of contamination, leakage, or disaster can occur. Even with the best attempt at creating a closed system, contamination will occur. Metsamor was designed as a closed atomic city, an atomograd.  Outsiders were not allowed to enter without special permission, yet its residents didn’t feel like they were living in a closed city. It also had explicit gender distinctions where spaces such as public spaces, gazebos, and courtyards were mostly occupied
D Model of the 1968 masterplan. Source: M. Mikhaelyan Family Archive 08 Andrew Blowers, “Landscapes of Risk: Conflict and Change in Nuclear Oases,” in Landscapes of Defence, ed. John Robert Gold and George Revill (Harlow, England: Pearson education, 2000), pp. 21-47, 23.
E Interior of the Armenian NPP’s control room. Source: Martina Shahbazyan Vosgueritchian | 5
09 Ievgeniia Gubkina, “The Atomograd’s Promises,” in Utopia & Collapse: Rethinking Metsamor: The Armenian Atomic City, ed. Katharina Roters and Sarhat Petrosyan (Zurich: Park Books, 2018), pp. 204-211, 204. 10 Hamlet Melkumyan, “Soviet Ideology, Utopian Futures, and Daily Transformations of Urban Space in Metsamor,” in Utopia & Collapse: Rethinking Metsamor: The Armenian Atomic City, ed. Katharina Roters and Sarhat Petrosyan (Zurich: Park Books, 2018), pp. 212-217, 212-214. 11 Gubkina, 207.
F Facade of the sports complex in Metsamor. Source: Katharina Roters 12 Gubkina, 210.
G Residential blocks of the dormitory, later used as a shelter for refugees from Nagorno Karabagh. Source: Katharina Roters 13 Gureghian, 166. Metsamor was the first USSR nuclear reactor built within an active seismic zone. It was built to only withstand an earthquake measuring 8 on the MSK-64 scale. 14 Davey, 2. 6
by men, who were allowed to be outside, while the women were confined to the domestic world which meant staying home most of the time. Metsamor was also perceived as a privileged city compared to other cities that weren’t adjacent to strategic organizations.  “Despite the monotony and lack of exclusivity they were deemed a luxury in Soviet society.”  Nuclear workers were a privileged group that enjoyed a high standard of living manifested through their specialized towns. The cities were often equipped with cultural centers and recreational facilities and the residents were ensured leisure, entertainment, material benefits, food, and comfort. While the risks of working at the NPP and living in Metsamor were high, the rewards were higher. But were these benefits worth the risks, health problems, isolation, and limitation of human rights that were in the invisible fine print of the contract the power plant workers signed?  Because nuclear energy does not release greenhouse gases in the process of turning uranium into power, it is considered “clean” energy. But nuclear waste is hazardous and very difficult to dispose of. The nuclear waste from the Metsamor Power Plant has polluted the Kasagh river that runs through the city which has led to adverse health consequences to its population. Many of the children born in Metsamor and the workers of the power plant have irreversible disabilities and chronic illnesses. The Armenian NPP was the first power plant built in the USSR on earthquake fault lines.  Additionally, the NPP was built without a containment dome as it wasn’t standard practice back then. “Only around 1982 have containment towers have begun to be incorporated in nuclear power plant reactors.”  Although Metsamor’s reactor has been updated over the past years, the EU still recommends shutting down the NPP. Additional risk comes with the method of transporting Uranium to the power plant, which is done by plane. It is rarely recommended to transport Uranium unless by land or sea. Armenia being a landlocked country
with 90% of its borders to its neighbors closed, has no way to mitigate the risks that come receiving Uranium and disposing of its nuclear waste through non-disclosed flights from Russia. “An explosion at Medzamor would devastate not only Armenia, but surrounding nations.”  It is the invisible dangers that come with the nature of the nuclear industry that are difficult to control and automatically attach the possibility of risks within the city and its surroundings. The Green Movement and Uprising
H Steps made of old radiators from the obsolete central heating systems. Source: Katharina Roters 15 Gureghian, 202.
“In the first ten years that Medzamor was active, over 150 serious accidents occurred. Three incidents almost resulted in catastrophic disaster. Some accidents resulted in radioactive permeation of the atmosphere and contamination of the local water system.”  Armenia was going through environmental catastrophes and a green movement started calling for the government to implement cleaner energy systems to be used in its factories and to stop the pollution of its rivers. “Armenia was the first republic to openly exercise the Soviet Union’s policy of glasnost, or “openness.” Armenians had suffered through decades of environmental crisis, but remained silent in fear of the Soviet regime. With glasnost, the Armenian people were no longer afraid to voice their opinions; they took to the streets on October 17, 1987 to publicly oppose the devastating environmental problems that plagued their republic. Over 2,000 protestors signed an appeal to the Soviet government and sent it to the Fifth Session of the USSR’s Supreme Soviet. The appeal called for the closing of the Medzamor nuclear power plant and the abandonment of a plan to build a second plant.”  “A year earlier, in March, 1986, 350 Armenian intellectuals wrote to CPSU General Secretary Gorbachev objecting to the contamination of Armenia’s environment in the quest for industrialization. The letter pressed for the closing of Medzamor because of serious leaks, the near catastrophes that the plant had experienced, and the serious health risks the
16 Gureghian, 176-177.
I Damaged interiors of the housing units. Source: Katharina Roters
17 Gureghian, 175. Vosgueritchian | 7
18 Gureghian, 175.
19 Misak Khostikyan, “The Modernisms of Metsamor,” in Utopia & Collapse: Rethinking Metsamor: The Armenian Atomic City, ed. Katharina Roters and Sarhat Petrosyan (Zurich: Park Books, 2018), pp. 197-203, 202.
plant imposed on the people.”  The 1988 Spitak earthquake is what pushed for the shift to happen and led to government officials finally shutting down the nuclear power plant in fear of a disaster. This shift had an adverse effect on the city of Metsamor, causing unemployment and thousands of workers were laid off and lost the benefits that came with their jobs in addition to intense emigration of workers from Metsamor to the capital of Armenia, Yerevan. The city was unfinished, the nuclear energy museum was never completed,  and the illusion of modernism and utopia started to collapse. The green movement had morphed into the Nagorno-Karabakh movement, demanding the unification of the Armenianpopulated Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast of its neighboring Azerbaijan with Armenia. A few years later, the real collapse came in 1992 when the movement escalated into a war at the same time as the dissolution of the USSR. Suddenly, Armenia had a war on its hands, a new enemy border with Azerbaijan, and no way of receiving fuel and oil to run its power plants. The Dark Years
J Aerial image of the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant.
Medzamor Crisis in our homeland “Isolated” from the world, With no other alternative, We turn to you with hope And fear And we ask, voices quivering: “If we give you life, will you save us, or destroy us?” — Gureghian, 1992.
K Five-story linking residential buildings typology. Source: Katharina Roters 8
The years between 1992 and 1995 are known as the dark, hungry and cold years. Heat and electricity were allocated only to hospitals, bakeries, and other indispensable services.  Coupled with the closing of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Armenia became a food desert. Imports to Armenia were through three railways, two running through Azerbaijan and one running through Georgia
which was inoperable due to the fighting and bombing in the area. Without a secure source of energy, Armenia went into darkness and was unable to handle the numerous crises it was going through. The result of this was massive unemployment due to the shutting down of many factories and industrial complexes. Frostbite, hypothermia, malnutrition, and starvation were all symptoms of this crisis due to lack of electricity and heat.
20 Gureghian, 180-181.
Metsamor shifted from being a special closed privileged city in the Soviet Union to having an inflow of people looking for electricity as it was one of the few cities that still had that. That said, Metsamor was not a utopia anymore. Residents were struggling to heat their homes and many of the radiators were upcycled into furniture and staircases as they had no use for them with no heating coming in. the dormitory building of the town quickly transformed into a social housing unit for the refugees of the Nagorno-Karabakh war. 
L Aerial image of the two active cooling towers.
When faced with the choice of improving the economy and providing food and heat to its struggling citizen or being environmentally conscious about the risks of reactivating the NPP, the government chose the former. “The Armenian government expects the reopening will stimulate the economy and produce the energy needed to run factories and heat homes.” 
21 Katharina Roters and Sarhat Petrosyan, eds., Utopia & Collapse: Rethinking Metsamor: The Armenian Atomic City (Park Books, 2018), 82.
22 Gureghian, 165.
When one of the reactors of the NPP was successfully reactivated in 1995, the economic and energy crisis started to ease up. Armenia won the war against Azerbaijan and the country started to get back up on its feet. But the trauma of the dark years was ingrained in the population’s minds and that is still the case today. Living in Limbo
Today, the powerplant is still active, well beyond its planned lifetime, and provides 40% of the power to the electrical grid of the country. There is a possibility of extending its activity till 2036 or decommissioning it in 2026 and replacing it with another reactor to be built
M View of the post office and its surroundings, 1970. Source: M. Mikhaelyan Family Archive Vosgueritchian | 9
23 Testimony from current resident.
N Sports center complex in Metsamor. Source: Katharina Roters
O View from the remnants of an artificial pond. Source: Katharina Roters 24 Daryl Mersom, “The City in the Shadow of an Ageing Nuclear Reactor,” BBC Worklife (BBC, May 26, 2019), https://
nearby. The residents of Metsamor live in limbo. Only 10% of its residents work at the NPP, the rest have chosen to stay in Medsamor because it is their home. The city is disconnected from major transportation services and no longer has an operating hospital. The fall of the USSR brought with it the disenchantment of the dreams that came with its industrial city complexes. Metsamor is one of many nuclear cities built in the USSR that have morphed into introverted cities. A resident of Metsamor said in an interview, “What do we have in Metsamor today? We have nothing?”  Petrosyan frames Metsamor as a utopian island, a weapon, and a metaphor for collapse. Indeed, Metsamor is an island, and its peak was the installment of nuclear technologies. Although the residents have made small changes to fit their needs when it comes to living conditions, beyond decay not much has evolved in the city. It is as if they are still waiting for the next phase in the master plan or the next infrastructural concept to come and evolve their city. In a way they are stuck, unable to change anything substantial but also unable to leave and change their own fate. One thing is for certain though: “The black years of electricity shortages are so strong in people’s minds that they cannot consider life without the plant.”  And in the RussianEuropean rivalry of wanting to keep it running or asking to shut it down, the residents, knowing that the health risks that come with living in Metsamor are detrimental to their and their children’s lives, would always choose the power plant over the risks. Conclusion
Some visitors and diasporic repatriates in Armenia don’t even know that the country has a nuclear power plant. I personally didn’t find out until the summer of 2018 after having visited Armenia over six times. I only found out when I went to the book signing of Sarhad Petrosyan and Katerina Blowers’s “Utopia and Collapse: Rethinking Metsamor the Armenian Atomic City.” It is already isolated, completely 10
unknown, its history and days of glory forgotten and disregarded. “Infrastructures have been technologies that modern states use not only to demonstrate development, progress, and modernity, giving these categories their aesthetics, form, and substance,” but to also promise an investment in a “source of jobs, market access, capital accumulation, and public provision and safety. On the other hand, communities worldwide face ongoing problems of service delivery, ruination, and abandonment, and they use infrastructure as a site both to make and contest political claims.”  “Infrastructures are important not just for what they do in the here and now, but for what they signify about the future. Particular infrastructures signal the desires, hopes, and aspirations of a society, or of its leaders. Nationstates often build infrastructures not to meet felt needs, but because those infrastructures signify that the nation-state is advanced and modern.”  Gleiter starts off by saying “Despite all the clichés, utopia was real.”  As much as the nuclear power plant succeeded in shaping the rhythms of social life in Metsamor, it failed in keeping its promise of infrastructure. Metsamor is a metaphor for dysfunction, a manifestation of collapse, failure, resistance, and hope, yet there is still life left in it. So what will happen when the infrastructure that the entire city is based on disappears? Williams is critical of the preservation methods employed to museumify the first reactor in the world. He says, “preservation is an act of making sure future generations understand what we want them to know about the past.”  Does it make sense to reimagine sites such as Chernobyl, the Three Mile island or Nagasaki as historical spaces open for tourism? Where does the city of Metsamor fit into this reality? Will it also become a relic of the past, open for tours of the only Nuclear Power Plant and atomograd in the south of the Caucuses after the NPP is decommissioned?
25 Nikhil Anand, Akhil Gupta, and Hannah Appel, The Promise of Infrastructure (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018), 3-4.
26 Brain Larkin in Anand, Gupta and Appel, 19. 27 Gleiter Jörg H., “Metsamor: The Trauma of Utopia,” in Utopia & Collapse: Rethinking Metsamor: The Armenian Atomic City, ed. Katharina Roters and Sarhat Petrosyan (Zurich: Park Books, 2018), pp. 232-235, 232.
28 Paul Williams, “Going Critical: On the Historic Preservation of the World’s First Nuclear Reactor,” Future Anterior 5, no. 2 (2008): pp. 1-18, https://doi.org/10.1353/ fta.0.0015, 1-2.
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0° 0° 1 20 0° ° 3
Y AN RM GE
B A LT I C
Post Soviet Nuclear Power Plant Network [Opposite] Most of the Power Plants built during the USSR are still active. Many have had new reactors be built adjacent to the old ones and the life of these sites has evolved. But why did the USSR build a nuclear power plant in landlocked Armenia? At the time, it was meant to provide electrical power to its surrounding countries which included Azerbaijan, the same country that heavily influenced the energy crisis in Armenia decades later.
Voronezh Novovoronezh Balakavo
AC K SE
Type: 2 unit RBMK-1500 Date of Construction: 1978 Status: Decomissioned 1983
Type: VVER-1200/V491 Date of Construction: 1970 Status: Active Units operational: 2 × 925 MW 1 × 1085 MW Units planned: 2 × 1085 MW Units under const: 1 × 1085 MW Units decommissioned: 2 × 925 MW
Type: RBMK-1000 Date of Construction: 1975 Status: Active
Type: VVER 1000/338 Date of Construction: 1977 Status: Active
H S TA
KYRG Y Z S TA N
TA J IK
S TA N
Type: VVER-1000/320 Date of Construction: 1973 Status: Active
Type: RBMK-1000 Date of Construction: 1972 Status: Explosion 1986
Type: RBMK-1000 Date of Construction: 1972 Status: Active
Type: BN-600, BN-800 Date of Construction: 1958 Status: 2/4 Active
° 18 0° 170 0° ° 16 50 °1
9 0° 1 0 0° 1
Type: VVER-440/179, VVER-1000/187 Date of Construction: 1957 Status: 2/5 Active
Type: EPG-6 Date of Construction: 1974 Status: Active
Zaporyzhzhya Type: 6 x VVER-1000/320
Type: VVER-1000/302 Date of Construction: 1976 Status: Active
Type: BN-350 Date of Construction: 1964 Status: Decommissioned 1999
Type: VVER-1200/392M Date of Construction: 2008 Status: Active
Type: VVER-440 Date of Construction: 1969 Status: 2/4 Active
Type: VVER-1000/320 Date of Construction: 1980 Status: Active
Date of Construction: 1980 Status: Active
Type: VVER-1000/320 Date of Construction: 1977 Status: Active
Akademik Type: 2 KLT-40S Lomonosov Date of Construction: 2007 Status: Active
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Nuclear Oases of the Anthropocene [Below] Today, many of the power plants built in the nuclear boom have already been decommissioned. The life span of the structures has surpassed their limits. Considering the numerous sources of renewable energy 135°W 165°W 150°W that are being used, NPPs are still being planned and built. Additionally, many of the countries that have the most reserves of uranium are mostly 75°N exporters and don’t use them for power generation themselves.
45°S Power Plant Status Under Construction Decomissioned Offline Operating 60°S
Uranium Mining >10% 5-10% <5%
60,918 GWhr 71,550 GWhr
Pakistan India 40,374 GWhr
Namibia Australia 30°S
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Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant
Electricity supplied (GWh)
500 1000 1500 2000 2500
Reactor II Construction start
Reactor I 1976 Construction start
Reactor I activated
Reactors I & II shut down 1995
Reactor II activated 1986 Chernobyl Disaster
1992 Fall of USSR 1992-95 Darkness
1988 Spitak Earthquake 1979 Three Mile Island 1988 1968
Model of the city of Metsamor
Green Movement Karabagh Movement
Decline of Population in the city as workers who came from other USSR regions went back home.
Additionally, locals left to work at Nuclear PPs in Iran and Russia looking for an income.
Metsamor Nuclear City
City plan revision I
Timeline of Metsamor: Armenia’s Nuclear City and Power Plant [Below] This timeline shows the conception of the city, the powerplant but also the disruptions that led to the collapse of the utopic vision. These included the 1988 earthquake in Spitak Armenia which led to the shutting down of the plant, the collapse of the USSR that led to a reversal of this decision. Today, one of the two nuclear reactors function and their future which is directly linked to the future of the city of Metsamor is uncertain.
Upgrading of the NPP
actor II activated
2015 Plans to build new nuclear reactor
Reactor II 2026 projected lifetime
2011 Fukushima Disaster 1999 City plan revision II Migration of population due to electricity crisis City of Metsamor is a ghost town
Clinic and hospital in Metsamor shut down Public transportation to Metsamor halts
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Byurakan, Armenia 20.59 KM
Talin, Armenia 32.26 KM
Gosh, Armenia 13.11 KM
Nor Yedesia, Armenia 5.25 KM
Metsamor Armenian Nuclear Power Plant
Masnikyan, Armenia 20.73 KM
Armavir, Armenia 9.65 KM
Kamisli, Turkey 40.83 KM
Mayisyan, Armenia 4.39 KM
Igdir, Turkey 31.08 KM
Arshaluys, Armenia 6.42 KM
Metsamor Containment Map [Opposite] The city of Metsamor was designed to be a closed and complete one. Those who lived in the city though had no reason to leave. By mapping out the distance of Metsamor to its neighboring villages and towns, I challenge the notion of the secluded and closed city here. This is where the question of risk comes up considering the close proximity of several cities and towns to the NPP.
Ashtarak, Armenia 20.64 KM
Vagharshabat, Armenia 13.61 KM Yerevan, Armenia 29.56 KM
Ayntab, Armenia 27.97 KM
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Water Contamination and Externalities [Opposite] The absence of the protective dome is typical of the time the reactor was built in but not so typical anymore. It poses a dangerous risk in case there is an accident at the NPP. Additionally, this map portrays the rivers that run through the area of Metsamor showing the extent of the damage any possible contamination and leakage has spread out to.
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41° N <757 BC M=7.3 2200 BC M=7.4
1827 M=7.1 Metsamor
762 BC M=7.1
58 M 893 735
NAKHICHEVAN 1976 M=7.1
1843 43° E
Seismic zones with PGA in fractions of g zone I - 0.3g PGA zone II - 0.4g PGA zone III - 0.5g PGA Earthquake Magnitude Epicenters 22
M 3.0-3.9 M 4.0-4.9 M 5.0-5.9 M 6.0-6.9
46° E 1304 1788 M=6.3 1042 M=7.3 1780 M=7.4
Earthquake Zones and Risk [Opposite] One of the main risks associated with Armenia’s NPP is it being built on several earthquake fault lines, being the first NPP in the USSR constructed on such conditions. It is one of the main arguments used by the US and the EU in the requests and recommendations to shut <757 BC M=7.3 down the NPP. 2200 BC M=7.4
40° N 893 1840 M=7.4
800 BC M=7.3
NAK 1976 M=7.1
39° N 1843
1931 43° E
Seismic zones with PGA in fractions of g zone I - 0.3g PGA 47° E
zone II - 0.4g PGA zone III - 0.5g PGA Earthquake Magnitude Epicenters
M 3.0-3.9 M 4.0-4.9 M 5.0-5.9 M 6.0-6.9 M 7.0-7.9 Fault Lines Vosgueritchian | 23
The Dark and Cold Years [Opposite] 1990’s energy crisis that lasted 4 years in Armenia left a deep imprint of trauma in the population’s minds. Characterized as cold, dark, and hungry, the cause was several externalities due to the geopolitical realities that emerged after the collapse of the USSR.
Cutting wood from forests to burn for heat
Heating up on the stove
Collecting water from street well
Rations for food grow weak
Azerbaijan bombing Russia-Georgia-Armenia oil pipeline
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From Dirt to Power to Nuclear Waste [Opposite] Mapping out the process of turning uranium ore into power, we see that in each step of the process, from extracton to fuel production, and later on the transportation of said fuel to the NPP, energy is used and spent to support this sequence. Is nuclear energy really clean?
Laboratory Control room
Uranium extraction columns Uranium recovery columns
Yellowcake drying and packaging
Trunk lines Well house
Production monitor well Willawortina formation Shoestring grains and gravels Barclay clay Barclay sands
Thickness (m) 90
Petrified Forest Member
0-60 Meonkopl Formation
60-75 30-35 30-75 10-30 0-180
Toroweap Formation Coconino Sandstone
Temple Butte Limestone
Creation of uranium ore 26
Milling and refinement into yellow cake
ng monitor well
on monitor well
Energy production Vosgueritchian | 27
Armenia’s Power Network and Dependancies [Opposite] This drawing maps out the electrical network connected to the Metsamor NPP in addition to other smaller energy plants around the nation. The dependency of Armenia on Metsamor is enormous, which opens up the question, what would Armenia’s power grid look like today if Metsamor’s NPP was shut down once more?
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