The Soviet Union shut down Armenia's only nuclear power plant Saturday because of a public outcry over its safety sparked by last December's devastating earthquake, the official Tass news agency said.
The 13-year-old twin reactor plant just 24 miles from the Armenian capital of Yerevan is the first operating nuclear station to be decommissioned in the Soviet Union.Erik Pozdyshev, an official for the Soviet Nuclear Power Ministry, said the station's second reactor was shut down Saturday afternoon. The first reactor was taken off line Feb. 25.
The plant, built in the heart of a major earthquake zone, had been expected to operate 30 years. It was designed to withstand earthquakes measuring up to 9.0 on the Richter scale.
"The power plant has been shut down in accordance with a special resolution of the Council of Ministers adopted last January largely under the influence of public opinion," Tass said.
The radioactive fuel for the 880-megawatt station will be left to cool for three years before it is removed and buried, Pozdyshev said.
The government has insisted the plant suffered no serious damage in the Dec. 7 earthquake that registered 6.9 on the Richter scale. The quake leveled several towns in northern Armenia and left 25,000 people dead.
Since the April 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in the Ukraine, a wave of anti-nuclear feeling has swept the Soviet Union. Public debate has centered on the safety of the country's massive atomic power industry following official admissions of poor construction and operating standards.