THE KOZLODOUI OR BELENE DILEMMA GOES PUBLIC
The proposal of senior energy officials for building a new 1,000-megawatt generator on the ground of Kozlodoui nuclear power plant instead of building the Belene plant appeared exciting not only to the branch experts. Non-governmental energy structures proposed that a public dispute on the issue be organized. The former head of the Nuclear Regulatory Agency Georgi Kaschiev who is now a lecturer in the Vienna University took part in the debates, too. He said the new option was more advantageous from an economic point of view and also considering the safety of the project. The ground in Kozlodoui has the whole infrastructure necessary for the exploitation of 4,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Therefore, there is space for two new nuclear units there, especially after reactors 3 and 4 are decommissioned, Mr. Kaschiev explained. On the other hand, a distribution utility must still be built in Belene, as well as at least three distribution lines for various stations, utilities for processing and preserving radioactive waste, a temporary storehouse for the processed fuel, etc. All of them require additional investments of some BGN600MN, the former NRA director said. The other factor that nobody has noticed yet is that Belene is an agricultural region and the building of a nuclear plant would have a negative effect on its ecology. Countries with developed nuclear energy such as Finland, France, and the USA, are only building new reactors on existing grounds, Mr. Kaschiev added.However, according to the Chairman of the Bulgarian Energy Forum Ivan Hinovsky, the idea for constructing a seventh block in Kozlodoui is not better than the idea for building two new reactors in Belene. The reason is that the enlargement of the existing plant does not meet a number of engineering requirements for launching a new nuclear unit. In the past years we have examined this option lots of times and every time we rejected it, Mr. Hinovsky said. Apart from being a former executive director of the National Electricity Company (NEC) and a member of the Board of Directors of Kozlodoui nuclear plant, he is also the first manager of Atomenergoproect. One of his arguments for rejecting the idea is that the possible places where the seventh generator of Kozlodoui may be built are too distant from the present ground of the plant. Besides, there are no inert materials in the region and the flat fund in Kozlodoui is not sufficient for the new personnel.A huge problem will also face the national electrical energy system which has to commute three 1,000-watt powers in one point. This is the problem that hasn't been solved during all past discussions of the idea for Kozlodoui.According to Ivan Hinovsky, the most suitable decision for building a new nuclear power is to finish the Belene project frozen in 1990. In that case, unit 1 will be a standard one, with a WWER B 320 reactor with no modifications. Moreover, the project for its construction already possesses an initial licence issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Agency. The reactor may be modernized in the course of the implementation up to the program currently performed for units 5 and 6 of the Kozlodoui plant. The technology for the second energy block in Belene should be selected by an open international tender. If this option is accepted without changes and with financing provided with an export credit from the supplying country, the government's intention to complete it by 2010 does not seem absurd, Mr. Hinovsky said. All other variants related to changes in the original project will go beyond the financial plans and deadlines. He supported his statement with examples from the modernisation of generators 5 and 6 of the Kozlodoui plant which implementation is already late by 4 years despite the perfect planning and the provided financing.Whether this discussion will go to the highest level of power is still to be seen. The only certain thing now is that the rulers are in panic trying to start the construction of the new nuclear plant promised publicly by PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha when his party was established. Seven months before the end of its mandate the project is still in its initial stage.