IAEA's Yanko Yanev: EU's Stance on Bulgaria's Nuke is Apartheid

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Bulgaria: IAEA's Yanko Yanev: EU's Stance on Bulgaria's Nuke is Apartheid Photo by iaea.org

Bulgaria-born Yanko Yanev heads the Nuclear Knowledge department in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He discussed the EU's hesitant stance on the closure of Units 3&4 of the Nuclear Power Plant in Kozloduy with Darik News' Miya Mihailova.*

Q: How will you comment on EU's delay of the closure of Kozloduy NPP's Units 3&4? This brings the question of how we should react, for this is a delicate situation?

A: I am currently in charge of Nuclear Knowledge in the IAEA, so I am probably one of the people's whose opinion on the matter is among the most stable. By that I mean that for me it isn't so important what the European Parliament decided yesterday, or how they would look at the issue. The more interesting issue is whether there is a just attitude towards the nuclear power in the world, in Bulgaria or in Europe.

And if Kozloduy NPP or Units 3&4 are units that answer to certain requirements, the safety question should be discussed very carefully. What we know so far is that the units are no worse than a number of others that are currently operational. If this is true, and it is, than why would some be allowed to work and others not? This is where the whole problem lies.

Why wouldn't the European Parliament agree with safety assessments? Because it isn't competent on the matter. They say it perfectly clearly: we cannot confirm the information because we are not competent on safety issues. There are certain agencies that deal with that and they have stated that Kozloduy NPP is equivalent to or no worse than the same generation plants operating in Spain or France or anywhere.

Q: Would a new peer review help...

A: While there are still plants from the same generation operating with comparable safety levels I believe that the attitude towards Bulgaria is pure apartheid. And this is what we should focus on. Why close some reactors and leave comparable ones working.

Q: If this is the core of the issue, than what policy should Bulgaria follow?

A: What policy should we follow? Well we have to follow the policy that any normal and logical person follows - we have to protect our interests and above all, keep the staff prepared at the highest level and the facility's technical condition impeccable.

Somehow I don't like saying "we are completely safe". There are no such plants in the world. But we have to make sure everything a condition that would allow us to operate the plant without fears of any accidents.

Right now, for example, the staff's behaviour and work in Kozloduy are probably scrutinized. This is why they should pool efforts to have everything at its best.

Q: This is one side of the story. But when it comes to the new energy situation in Europe and on the Balkans, what is Bulgaria's cause there?

A: The energy situation in Europe is the same as in many parts of the world. Energy consumption is rising and unfortunately, investments in new power sources and capacities are not so big, an issue that has been brought up by the IAEA in its last report. These investments are critically low and this creates worries in many countries.

G-20's finance ministers met in Australia a couple of days ago, and finance ministers and foreign ministers also met in Brussels. The matter of energy security is one of the key problems of our time.

And if there is any logic in closing down energy-producing facilities and depriving society of energy, and then spending money for closing those same facilities... I think that the Europeans, and the European voters have, after all, enough brains in their head to think. Why is it that politicians have to be the ones expressing the opinion of all the people in Europe. It seems they are happy with paying twice or thrice for something, which is senseless and unreasonable.

I liked it a lot when the Finnish MEP said: how long would we have to sit here and pay attention to a stupid decision that has no logic - be it financial, economical or safety-related. This is where I see a problem. As a EU country, we shouldn't just support what has been said, but look for the logic and the reason in all this.

*Translated by Petya Sabinova, Sofia News Agency.
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