Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

A NUCLEAR PAWN IN THE BIG GAME

I'm really impressed by the explanations of technical experts. Kozlodoui N-plant's resource has considerably increased and it can operate safely and efficiently much longer than the projected dates for decommissioning of its units 3 and 4 ahead of schedule, the member of the European Parliament Giles Chichester said during his visit to Bulgaria. During the week the N-plant was also visited by Judith Melin, Chairperson of the Westeuropean Nuclear Regulators' Association (WENRA) and Director of the Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate. And some ten days ago Kozlodoui was visited by Kenneth Brockman, Director Division of Nuclear Installation Safety of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The question regarding the N-plant's safety was not replied, but it is indisputable that the Bulgarian N-plant is becoming a factor in the big nulcear game. It is not fair for the European Union to demand decommissiong of Kozloui's units 3 and 4 ahead of schedule if it cannot point reasonable causes for that, Mr. Chichester underlined. According to him, a serious debate about the future of the type of nuclear capacities similar to ours is going on both in the European Parliament and in the Council of Europe. More European officials admit that the attitude towards nuclear power stations of the Russian type should change as the situation regarding both their secutity and safety operation has considerably changed. If these N-plants are decommissioned Europe will become stongly dependent on natural gas, the European nulcear lobby claims. The quicker exhaustion of natural gas in the North Sea and the increasing consumption rates make the EU face the danger that its energy sector would be to a large extent dependent on Russia. This prospect is hardly to the liking of the 15 EU members.
Politically, and from a purely economic point of view it is not sensible for any country to be dependent on just one source of electricity, Mr. Chichester believes. When we are all concerned about environmental pollution and we are struggling to reduce hothouse effects, decommissioning of nuclear capacities is absolutely pervert the member of the European Parliament is adamant. In his words, a package of legislative measures for the safe operation of nuclear power stations has been already prepared. The documents should be approved by May 2004, i.e. before the new 10 members are admitted to the EU. The peer review on the Kozlodoui N-plant has been scheduled for November 17-19. As it has become known during the week, in addition to the already specified issues of the safe decommissioning of units 1 and 2, the EU experts will also inspect the project safety of generators 3 and 4, for which Bulgaria has insisted. The expanded scope of the peer review has been also demanded by the EU's group on nuclear issues. Its inquiries have been sent to Kozlodoui, but the answers won't be returned to the nuclear experts. They will be sent to the EU presidency where the conclusive stance on the scope of the partners' inspection will be prepared. According to information from Brussels, the final report is to be ready in March-April 2004, on the eve of the first big enlargement of the EU.

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