European nuclear community mourns loss of Armen Abagyan.

In November 2005, the nuclear community was hit by the tragic news that an old colleague and friend, Dr. Armen Artavazdanovich Abagyan had died in Moscow. His death at the age of 72 (his wife also perished in the fire) was a real shock not just to his family, but also to his many friends and partners in science across Europe. Indeed, one month earlier he had met spoken to many of those friends in Budapest, where he received the WANO (World Association of Nuclear Operators) Nuclear Excellence Award. The award was a fitting recognition of an illustrious career in the nuclear industry that spanned over fifty years.

Armen Abagyan
Armen Abagyan

Armen, an Armenian, was born in 1933, in the Nagorny Karabakh region of the Soviet Union. After graduating from Moscow’s University of Engineering and Physics, in 1956, he started working for the Institute of Physical and Power Engineering, in Obninsk. He left the Institute in 1976, to begin working at the Russian Institute for Nuclear Power Plant Operations, VNIIAES. His was specialized in the field of radiation safety and power plant operations. That year, Armen was nominated Deputy Director General of Rosenergoatom (the state-owned company that operates all nuclear power plants in Russia) a position that he held until his death.

In 1986, he was among the first specialists to arrive on the scene at Chernobyl, following the accident that occurred on that fateful April day. The papers that he wrote about the Chernobyl accident contributed greatly to industry’s understanding of what were the root causes of the accident. His pioneering work on nuclear safety helped to develop scientific and technical safety measures that should prevent accidents like the one at Chernobyl from ever happening again.

Armen Abagyan continued to work in the nuclear safety field, developing full-scale simulators that are still used today to train power plant personnel. He was a founder member (and later a member of the Board of Governors) of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), which was created in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster. Other positions that he held during his career included being a member of the Nuclear Energy Commission of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a member of the European Nuclear Council (ENC) and a member of the IAEA’s INSAG, International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group.

In addition to being an accomplished scientist and one of the world’s greatest authorities in his field, Armen was also a wise, friendly and accommodating man with a great sense of humour and humanity. One man who knew him well was Ales John of CEZ, who is Business development Manager at FORATOM. So, let’s leave the last word about Armen to Ales:

I collaborated with Dr. Armen Abagyan in WANO for many years. Armen Artavazdanovich, as I called him, was a friendly man who like good company and enjoyed a good meal with his friends. He was also a devoted family man. One thing that I particularly remember about Armen was his ability to explain complicated issues very simply and clearly. Many times I also asked him advice regarding sensitive Russian issues because of his deep knowledge and love of Russian culture and his understanding of the country’s soul and customs. He always gave me sound advice. Last time I met him, at the presentation of his WANO Nuclear Excellence award he said how very proud he was to have received it.

It is the great pity that he passed away. You cannot get much better than him.


Home l Top l Disclaimer l Copyright l Webmaster