Банкеръ Weekly

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NO SOLO CAMPAIGNS IN THE BATTLE FOR KOZLODOUI N-PLANT

After the Memorandum on the Nuclear Power Plant of Kozlodoui was ratified in end-March, there are two possible options in front of the Cabinet of Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The first and easier one is to fulfill all requirements of the European Union (EU). The second - to try postpone as much as possible the term for decommissioning units III and IV of the N-plant - is much more difficult. It is being discussed if this should be done by 2006 (as per the EU requirements) or in the 2008-2010 period (as the ratified document projects). The positions will be clarified in Brussels in the autumn of 2002. There Bulgarian politicians may also demand additional funds from the EU for the final decommissioning of the four units and ensuring of their safety. The arguments are more than obvious: within just a year each of Kozlodoui's small reactors generates electricity worth USD80-100MN. The decommissioning of the N-plant's units I and II will cost at least BGN900MN. All this is well-known in Europe. Moreover, in the Memorandum, signed in 1999 by the government of former premier Ivan Kostov, the EC Commissioner Guenter Verheugen promised that the EC would undertake the initiative in 2000 to mobilize international financial institutions and other international donors to allocate additional money. However, no such mobilization has been noticed by now.The issue seems to have been decided in advance by bureaucrats in Brussels. We are yet to understand if the N-plant chapter has not been closed for Bulgarian officials in Sofia as well.The appraisal of the International Association on Atomic Energy (IAAE) about Bulgaria's report on atomic energy, to be discussed in Vienna on April 18, will be of huge importance. Such reports are approved once in four years for each country which uses nuclear reactors. The last report of 1998 confirmed that units I and II were dangeourous and should br decommissioned. A number of recommendations for increasing the safety of the other two reactors were made. If the annual report gets a positive stance in Vienna, the opportunities for exploitation of units III and IV till the year 2010 will increase.The third factor is the forthcoming mission of the IAAE in June 2002, whose apparisal will be of huge importance to the N-plant of Kozlodoui. IAAE's previos mission to Bulgaria was ten years ago. Since 1991 all visits of experts from Vienna were intermediate and discussed exploitation of generators only. During IAAE's forthcoming visit Bulgaria should prove that as a result of the modernization the construction and technoligical level of units III and IV has been increased and they have been brough in compliance with the European safety standards. Prior that, however, the constructor of the two reactors - Russia's Atomergoproject - should be approached with a demand to change the type of the two reactors.We'll also have to prove that the Committee for Peaceful Usage of Atomic Ebergy (CPUAE) is indeed an independent regulator of nuclear power, by accepting the required regulatory framework. The CPUAE has already drafted an entirely new bill on atomic energy, which is to be approved by Parliament.If these positions are vidicated Bulgaria may hope for a certain success in Brussels.Two Bulgarian governments had tried to trade Kozlodoui's old reactors. On June 16, 1992 the cabinet of Prof. Berov signed an agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) under which units I and II of the N-plant had to be closed down by April 1997, and units II and IV - in 1998. Commitments were undertaken to implement a large-scale programme for improving the safety of reactors III and IV, for which the EBRD allocated a free grant of ECU24MN.However, the agreement with the EBRD was not ratified by the Bulgarian Parliament and the State fulfilled only the last part of it, investing USD200MN-plus (own money and financial assistance from various institutions) in the safety of dangerous Kozlodoui reactors.On November 29, 1999 former premier Ivan Kostov's government signed a Memorandum with the EU for decommissioning the N-plant's units I and II by end-2002. The shut-down of reactors III and IV had to be negotiated by that time as well. The EU insisted that units III and IV should be closed down 2006, while Bulgaria's stance was that they should be decommissioned in the 2008-2010 period. Brussel's financial commitments included a EUR200MN (EUR100MN for each pair of reactors) grant under the PHARE programme, of which EUR26.85MN has been allocated so far. Euroatom released a loan of EUR212.5MN for modernization of Kozlodoui's units V and VI. It was ratified by the National Assembly in 2001.

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