Bulgarian Nuke Accident Rated 2 at INES

Politics | May 8, 2006, Monday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgarian Nuke Accident Rated 2 at INES Sergey Tsochev (L), Chairman of the NRA, Alexander Rogatchev, head of the Department of International Cooperation and European Integration (C), and Nikolay Vlahov (R), Executive Secretary. Photo by Kameliya Atanasova (Sofia News Agency)

The accident at Bulgaria's Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant was officially rated level 2 according to the International Nuclear Events Scale (INES), the Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRA) announced.

The even was first reported as level one (seven being the most dangerous), but the rating was upped after taking into account side factors, Sergey Tsochev, head of the NRA said.

Rated as anomaly at first, the event is now considered an incident, due to two major side factors. Tsochev explained. A common cause failure resulted in the incident - meaning that several devices malfunctioned due to the same reason. Also there had been surveillance procedures incompleteness.

Information in German daily Spiegel about the incident caused uproar in Bulgaria, as the report claimed a near-Chernobyl incident had taken place in Kozloduy NPP. The newspaper cited former NRA head Georgi Kaschiev, now a professor in Vienna, as saying that Bulgaria was covering up a serious problem.

Reports in the foreign press had been untruthful, Tsochev said, adding that authorities probably should have explained the matter in a more intelligible way to the Bulgarian media to avoid confusion.

There are three possible scenarios from now on, NRA's deputy head Borislav Stanimirov said. One would be to replace the faulty equipment with such that bears sufficient guarantees from Russian manufacturer Hidropress that the very reason for the fault had been removed. Another option is to continue to use to rods but with added safety procedures that, again, have been proven to completely do away with the problem. The third and most unfortunate option would be shutting down the plant's Unit 5 if Hidropress fails to demonstrate sufficient evidence for having solved the problem.

Stanimirov, however, said that he highly doubted that they'd have to consider the third option, as they believed in the professionalism of the Russian company.
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