To what extent the residents of the residential areas located within a radius of 10 km of the impact zone of the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant feel safe and whether their safety is ensured?
EcoLur is starting series of materials based on the replies to the questions given to the representatives of impacted residential area residents, local active civil society and local government bodies on safety measures related to awareness, preparation in emergencies, and participation in decision-making processes. There are 25 residential areas located within a radius of 10 km of the impact zone of the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant.
There are no population evacuation plans in the visible places designed for accidents in Metsamor Town located at a distance of 6 km from the ANPP, nor posters and signs guiding on nuclear safety. The surveys carried out in Metsamor show that the residents are not sufficiently aware of the measures aimed at ensuring safety at ANPP. The respondents mentioned that there are safety training sessions carried out in Metsamor, but they assess their level of knowledge about nuclear hazards as lower than sufficient. There have been no discussions held on the legal acts on nuclear safety in the community.
Metsamor has 3 shelters, which are not in a good condition. In Metsamor, Community head is in charge of the nuclear safety of the population.
Metsamor Deputy Mayor Samvel Galstyan:
No monitoring related to ANPP impact has been carried out in here and we don’t have any information. In my opinion, a monitoring shall be carried out and the residents must be informed about the results. I strongly support the recognition of Metsamor as an impacted community.
Till 2014 the ANPP paid the land and property taxes to Metsamor, afterward the Supervision Chamber carried out inspections and decided that it is not within out administrative area and gave it to Mayisyan Community. Currently, the ANPP is located within the administrative borders of Mayisyan. No discussion has been held with us.
'Hope of Metsamor' NGO President Margarita Sedrakyan:
The opinions of impacted community residents about the ANPP are different: there are people who think positive and there are people who have no information. Personally, I haven't heard about or taken part in any event relating the ANPP safety. I would like to know whether there are shelters in the impacted communities in case of emergencies, and in what condition these shelters are. In my opinion, the residents shall be aware of the place they live in and all the risks must be discussed with them.
I would like to know whether diseases are connected with the nuclear power plant. In international practice, some blood diseases are attributed to radiation. But here no health research related to radiation has been carried out.
There are two shelters in the kindergarten and hospital in Armavir Community. Basements serve as shelters, which don't have conditions necessary for protection, proper structures etc. According to most respondents, there are no population evacuation plans and posters guiding on nuclear safety in the community. Certain residents are not aware at all. Only one resident noted that there is an evacuation plan available in schools. According to Armavir residents, there are safety training sessions held in schools. Residents not having relations with the school were not aware of conducting the training session. At the same time, the respondents assessed their level of awareness as satisfactory. None of the respondents took part in the discussions of the legal acts on ANPP nuclear safety.
'Armavir Press Club' NGO President Anzhela Stepanyan
Over 70% of rural households in Armavir Region are in a poor social state. Metsamor Town has been established based on the nuclear power plant. In the past, both Metsamor Town residents and adjacent community residents used to have certain privileges: the ANPP 100% yielded electricity fees. Then, the fees were reviewed and reduced up to 70%, then 50%, while all the privileges were abolished after the independence.
The social poor state of the communities located near the ANPP is added by the problems related to the safety. The official data always deny those risks or violations voiced by independent experts. I haven't seen any measures aimed at safety around the ANPP. I have only seen the shows organized by the Ministry of Emergency States. There is also another problem: today all the water reserves of the artesian basin are endangered: new boreholes are drilled to ensure the ANPP with water, while the Sevjur river is getting dry.
'Armavir Development Center' NGO President Naira Araqelyan
When the reconstruction of the ANPP power unit was being discussed, our organization proposed to Energy Ministry to make investments in the communities for environmental and development programs. Nevertheless, we were replied that the ANPP doesn't have a profit and works with losses. In our opinion, large operating enterprises should have a certain contribution to the development of the community.
For the purpose of developing a corporate social responsibility in Armenia, 'Sustainable Development Initiative' NGO presented a project where we were a stakeholder. Metsamor and other communities were taken as target communities. In the frames of this project, the ANPP provided 'Metsamor of Hope' NGO certain property, transportation means etc. Each year the organization presents the children with gift boxes.
A survey has been carried out in Armavir and Metsamor on the social state of the residents, which showed: the majority of the population in Metsamor community work at the ANPP. The community has a polyclinic and a hospital. There is a problem with drinking water: there is no water. There isn't sufficient irrigation water – 600 ha of agricultural land areas in the community is arid. There is a centralized sewage drainage system in the community, but there are no cleaning stations. According to the residents, there is stink spreading over the community. Metsamor uses electricity, gas, and wood for heating purposes. If the residents heat their houses with gas and electricity in the winter, then they monthly pay 60,000-80,000 AMD, while it costs 100,000-250,000 AMD to obtain wood.
The main occupation of the residents in Armavir community is gardening, cultivation of vegetables and cattle breeding. There are families who live due to migration for work. There are irrigation and drinking water, but the drinking water has poor quality.
A part of the respondents mentioned that there are no cleaning stations and a centralized sewage drainage system. For the purpose of heating, Armavir uses electricity, gas, wood, and biofuel. Expenses are different: monthly it will make up 30.000 AMD in the winter and 50,000-80,000 AMD in case of gas. There are families in the communities adjacent to Armavir, which heat their houses in the winter with wood.
The residents of both communities mentioned that they would like to receive privileges in electricity fees from the ANPP as impacted communities.
16:27 November 30, 2018