EP Frowns at Costly N-Plant Decommissioning in Bulgaria

Bulgaria in EU | April 5, 2011, Tuesday // 15:34|  views

MEPs asked the European Commission to set up a coordination team to supervise the plans, the timetable and the use of money so far. Photo by BGNES

The European Parliament has called for more transparency and tighter control of the use of the financial assistance with respect to the decommissioning of Units 1 to 4 of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant in Bulgaria.

Delays, lack of coordination and too much money going to unrelated energy projects were among criticisms made of the nuclear power plant decommissioning programs in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia in a European Parliament resolution adopted on Tuesday.

Lithuania, Slovakia and Bulgaria currently receive EU funds for managing the decommissioning of three old power plants.

These programs must be improved if the EU is to continue its support, says the resolution, which evaluates the way funds were used in the period 2007-2013 and represents Parliament's input into plans to extend the programs after 2013.

While welcoming progress made so far, MEPs are worried about delays and the general lack of coordination. They ask the European Commission to set up a coordination team to supervise the plans, the timetable and the use of money so far, to determine if there is a further need for an EU role and to decide on responsibilities within the programs.

In their resolution, drafted by Marian-Jean Marinescu (EPP, RO) and adopted on Tuesday by show of hands, MEPs also question the relatively high share of EU funds going to energy projects not directly related to the three power plants.

The European Court of Auditors will compile a special report on the three decommissioning programs, to be published this autumn. Parliament asks the Court to say if the funds were used as intended, if public procurement procedures were respected, if the money spent led to better safety, if the EU anti-fraud agency OLAF has been involved and whether there has been enough coordination between the programs.

During the current long term budget framework (2007-2013), EU aid is estimated to be EUR 1367 M for Ignalina (Lithuania), EUR 613 M for Bohunice (Slovakia) and EUR 868 M for Kozloduy (Bulgaria).

The programs consist of measures in the areas of decommissioning (e.g. waste treatment and fuel decontamination), energy (such as improving energy supply and upgrading infrastructure) and social consequences (safety support for plant personnel and re-training of staff).

Over the last ten years Bulgaria has received a total of EUR 550 M in compensation for the closure of four units at Kozloduy that had been deemed unsafe, but the government received additional aid under Europe's recovery plan.

Bulgaria's previous Socialist-led government first called for additional money and went as far as to ask Brussels to compensate the country for the double blow of the gas crisis and the global economic slowdown by allowing a restart of the units.

The European Commission however has been adamant that a relaunch of the Soviet-era reactors at Bulgaria's sole nuclear power plant is out of the question.

The plant, which has been operating since 1974, has raised safety concerns, and Bulgaria agreed to shut four of its reactors as a condition of joining the EU.

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Tags: decommissioning aid, Nuclear Power Plant, Kozloduy NPP, Vladimir Urutchev, MEP, EP, Kozloduy, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Slovakia, European parliament


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