Bulgaria Can't Afford to Dismantle Shut Nuclear Reactors

Energy | March 10, 2011, Thursday // 20:07|  views

Units 1 and 2 of the Kozloduy NPP have been given to a state radioactive waste agency to manage them. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria cannot afford at present to fund the dismantling of reactors 1-4 of the Kozloduy NPP, according to the management of State Company "Radioactive Waste".

The 440-MW Soviet-era reactors 1 and 2 of the Kozloduy NPP were shut down in 2002 on EU insistence (Units 3 and 4, which are of the same type, were turned off in 2006, leaving the Kozloduy plant only with two 1000-MW reactors in operation.)

In October 2010, Bulgaria's Nuclear Regulation Agency declared units 1 and 2 of Kozloduy NPP for radioactive waste facilities. State Company "Radioactive Waste" has managed the units since December 2010; it will soon be put in charge of units 3 and 4 as well.

On Thursday, the company announced that the money in the "nuclear funds" are not enough for the dismantling of the now useless reactors.

According to Georgi Gyoshev, a senior specialist at the state company, the dismantling of one of the reactors will cost between EUR 200 M and EUR 300 M, bringing the total sum needed to about EUR 1 B.

He mentioned the estimates are based on international experience but the exact cost for Bulgaria is unknown since the country has never before dismantled a nuclear reactor.

Only half of the total sum – or about BGN 1.2 B are currently available in the nuclear saving funds set up years ago to collect money for the dismantling.

Margarita Korkinova, Finance Director of the state company, has pointed out that the shortage of funds is due to the late start of the mechanism – in 2000. What is more, subsequently, the government reduced the percentage of earnings from nuclear produced electricity allocated for the dismantlement.

Gyoshev commented that the fund raising was delayed by recent speculations that units 3 and 4 might be restarted. He pointed out that any delay makes the process more expensive.

According to the experts, the EU might allocated Bulgaria additional funding for the dismantling of the four reactors. It has allocated EUR 300 M for Bulgaria in nuclear decommissioning aid for 2007-2014, and Bulgaria is yet to hold talks with it for 2014-2020.

Funds can also be raised by selling assets from the sites of the reactors that are not radioactive, said the state company head Dilyan Petrov. He pointed out how a nuclear reactor site in Germany was turned into a business park with a yacht port.

The company also reminded that in 2015, a Bulgarian storage facility for low- and medium-grade radioactive waste must be launched, and that a location for it is yet to be selected.

In 2011, the Bulgarian government is expected to adopt a new strategy for processed nuclear fuel including a plan to dispose of and store high-grade nuclear waste from the Kozloduy plant.

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Tags: Kozloduy NPP, State Company Radioactive Waste, nuclear reactor, Units 1 and 2, Nuclear Power Plant, Nuclear Regulation Agency, nuclear waste facility, Harlets, Dilyan Petrov, units 3 and 4


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