Bulgaria's Third Nuclear Unit Switched to Grid

Business | June 6, 2006, Tuesday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
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Unit 3 of Bulgaria's only operating nuclear power plant has been switched back onto the grid after scheduled repair works.

The reactor has been off since April 22, during which time the other three units operated at increased power, Kozloduy's press office announced.

During the maintenance, the equipment underwent preventive repair as scheduled and the 440 MW reactor was refuelled for operation during the new fuel cycle.

Kozloduy, which is Bulgaria's only nuclear power producer, has closed units 1 and 2 under pressure from the EU, and in 2002 committed to shut down Soviet-type units 3 and 4 by the end of this year.

There has been much controversy whether the closures are necessary, or the reactors might be safe enough to keep working for several more years.

A day earlier Economy and Energy Minister Rumen Ovcharov announced plans to partially dismantle equipment at two mothballed reactors at Kozloduy as a guarantee to the EU that it will not attempt to reopen the facilities.

The move comes in response to a recent letter by European Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn calling for the ministry "to further demonstrate its commitment to the closure of the two reactors, and the forthcoming shutdown of two more by end-2006.

In a special action plan to put forward in Brussels on Tuesday, the ministry commissioned the Kozloduy authorities to request permission by the country's nuclear regulator "to dismantle equipment (at reactors number one and two) not related to the safe storage of spent fuel in the reactors' pools."

The plan added that the nuke's authorities also have to request a change in the operation permits of reactors number three and four "with a view to their closure".

The latest commissioned reactors of Kozloduy - five and six - are of a more modern design and will remain in service.

Official estimates have shown that after closing the reactors Bulgaria will probably withdraw from its position as top energy exporter in the Balkans.

Rumen Ovcharov has tried to downplay all speculation on possible re-opening of the nuclear units by saying that Bulgaria "will close everything it had promised to".
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