Construction of Bulgaria's Belene N-plant to Start in 2nd Half of 2009

Business | December 13, 2008, Saturday // 00:00

The actual construction of Bulgaria's nuclear power plant in the Danube town of Belene could start in the second half of 2009 after the Nuclear Regulation Agency issues an official permit.

The statement was made Saturday by the body's Chairman Sergey Tsochev during a seminar dedicated to its activities.

"Atomexportstroy, the Russian company, which is building the plant, is expected to send all the papers related to the project within days," Mr tsochev explained.

"After that our agency has to deliver its final decision within nine months," he added.

The technical project's expertise will be conducted by three companies - a Bulgaria, a German and a French ones.

The first sod of the facility has already been made by Bulgaria's Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev in the beginning of September.

Then Stanishev and the Energy and Economy Minister Petar Dimitrov defined the start of the construction of the plant as "a Renaissance for Bulgaria's nuclear energy".

"This is the largest industrial project in Bulgaria in the last eighteen years", the PM said, apparently excited by the event. He compared the fate of the Belene nuclear plant to the general condition of the country's economy during the post-communist transition after 1989.

The project was frozen in 1990 after local people and environmentalists protested against it, and because the government did not have sufficient funds to continue the construction.

Minister Dimitrov added the Belene plant would be a third generation nuclear power plant with a zero risk for failures.

The President of Atomexportstroy Leonid Reznikov assured the public the construction of the plant was not going to cost more than the almost EUR 4 B already agreed upon.

The CEO of the Bulgarian National Electric Company NEK Lyubomir Velkov said more than 10 000 workers will be employed during the construction, and 2000 specialist will be permanently employed at the first 1000-MW unit after its completion. The first reactor of the plant is expected to start operating in 2013.

NEK will own 51% of the nuclear power plant. The German company RWE has won the bid for acquisition of the remaining 49%.

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