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The dangers of the Soviet era Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant

London: The dangers of the Soviet-era Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant – built on the same outmoded design as that in Chernobyl, without a containment vessel – has been highlighted during an event in Portcullis House, part of the UK Parliament, on 18 December. Entitled The Role of the Individual in Environmental Protection in Conflict Zones, the event was hosted by Jack Brereton MP, and organised by the European Caucasus House, a Brussels-based NGO. Around 100 multinational Londoners were in attendance, including MPs and NGO leaders.Dr Saboor Javaid, Chairman, HOPEMAN Consultants UK, and Environmental Scientist and Educational Entrepreneur, commented: “The Metamor Nuclear Power Plant in Armenia uses very old scientific Soviet-era technologies and was constructed in 1976. It is located near a seismic fault line, and a nearby earthquake registered 6.3 on the Richter scale. After that, the plant was closed for five years. “There have been repeated calls by the international community to close down this power plant. A seismic stress test was undertaken. Armenia has refused to decommission the plant. It particularly represents a danger to neighbouring Azerbaijan, but also to the entire region. Furthermore, the plant also disperses the by-products of plutonium and other nuclear waste, which leaches into the groundwater.”Vesna Petkovic, Environmental Scientist, remarked: “We may always refer to Chernobyl and Fukushima, but other outdated nuclear plants are still operational that pose a risk to the environment and human lives if anything goes wrong. Today, some of these disastrous monsters from the past are still operational, such as the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant in Armenia. Our concern is not political and economic, but we must look at the possibly disastrous consequences, as was the case with Chernobyl. Natural occurrences, like an earthquake, which are highly likely in the Caspian Region, can be the cause of such a disaster.”Riffi Khan, Media Communications Specialist, Riffi Media, said: “We need to increase understanding of these issues. We are clever enough to send man to the moon, and we were clever enough to develop nuclear power, replacing coal and oil. We defeated nature at its own game to produce unlimited power. “However, nature always fights back, and one mistake at Chernobyl cost people their lives and their health for generations. The system was not impervious to mistakes and nature. It beggars belief that the Metasmor Nuclear Power Plant in Armenia was built on seismic fault lines. Ultimately, humanity will be the losers, and we need to move the story forward.”Moderator Leyla Gasimova, Project Chairperson and International Liaison Officer, European Caucasus House, commented: “Peacebuilding and peace education not only concerns peaceful conflict resolution, but environmental protection and justice. If we live in the same globalised world, breathing the same air, then we are equal in front of nature and share the same responsibility to protect our environment, no matter who we are and regardless of our background.”Speaking on the impact of nuclear disasters, she commented: “The Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters have had a devastating social, economic and environmental impact – it is necessary to analyse how many countries have suffered, lands have been contaminated, lives have been taken, and how many people have and are experiencing health issues.”Faisal Rashid MP noticed: “This is a very important topic that is worthy of discussion and is the responsibility of every person in the world. Today’s debate will help with the formulation of future policies. Everyone has a part to play in this issue.”Raja Najabat, Human Rights Activist and Conflict Zone Expert, Chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Self Determination International Organisation, commented: “This subject needs to be discussed in Geneva and Brussels.”Khalid Mahmood MP said: “The big issue is that we are not even concerned about humanity, before we get to the environment. We have to avoid dehumanising any sense of the environment.” Lord McNair Duncan, Senior Consultant, Hopeman Consultants and an Advisor in the field of Peace Education and Human Rights, acknowledged: “The programme outlined in the documents for the conference is an excellent approach towards addressing the problems of cultural and environmental destruction as a result of conflict. Sustainable social and cultural development does require peace, and war is the ultimately the most unsustainable activity engaged in by human beings.”Dr Nidal Salim, Founder and Director-General of the Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health, Geneva, Switzerland, stated: “When we speak of Environmental Protection, we speak of Human Rights and Human Security. This is the age of governance, and good leaders must surmount borders to have an impact. This issue is ultimately a human security issue.” Mohammed Yasin MP recognised: “Until we change our attitudes and double-standards about wars, regarding environmental effects and human rights violations, we cannot make any change. Human rights are bigger than financial interests.”Professor Amina Nikolajev, Law Faculty, University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, explained: “We have nuclear plants in my country, but have the same issues regarding the disposal of radioactive waste. The disposal of waste from three countries in Croatia has resulted in pollution of air, soil and water.”The event concluded with the announcement of a five-phase Joint Project aimed at Regional Safety Enhancement and Sustainable Development. Photo Courtesy by S M IRFAN TAHIR Photojournalist / Member National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Great Britain.

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