Bulgarian Nuclear Plant among Safest in Europe - Stress Test

Business » ENERGY | January 5, 2012, Thursday // 15:23
Bulgarian Nuclear Plant among Safest in Europe - Stress Test: Bulgarian Nuclear Plant among Safest in Europe - Stress Test The Head of Bulgaria's Nuclear Regulatory Agency, Sergey Tsochev. Photo by BGNES

The management of the Nuclear Regulatory Agency presented Thursday Bulgaria's national report on stress tests at the Nuclear Power Plant, NPP, "Kozloduy" and for the NPP "Belene" project.

The Agency's Head, Sergey Tsochev, informed the results show a very high level of stability for both. He also presented at a briefing to the media the methodology and history of the checks. Stability under extreme external influences such as earthquakes, strong winds, floods, power loss, and other severe accidents have all been assessed.

Following the accident at earthquake-stricken Japanese NPP "Fukushima," all European nuclear plants were mandated to make similar stress checks to identify measures to improve safety.

The experts found that the "Kozloduy" meets the safety requirements for maximum earthquake. It was proven that "Kozloduy NPP" ensures safety for maximum seismic influences and has large resources regarding earthquakes stronger than those for which it was designed.

With regard to floods, the inspection proved that the site of "Kozloduy" cannot be flooded and there is no risk of tsunami or other waves. The site was built 35 meters above sea level and during extreme events such as rupture in the wall of the hydrologic system "Zhelezni Vrata" (Iron Gate), which is 250 km from the Bulgarian NPP, on the Serbian-Romanian border, and prolonged heavy rainfall, the maximum water level would reach 32.9 meters.

The plan is that by mid-2012 Units 3 and 4 to be released from nuclear fuel, said the Head of the Agency.

A series of measures to improve sustainability of Units 5 and 6 to extreme external influences has been developed. There is a proposal for the installation of an automatic cooling system, powered by mobile operators.

The inspection report shows that the level of safety is adequately reflected and it found that "Kozloduy" to date maintains a high level of safety, compliant to the requirements and there is no need of special measures such as closure of the NPP for reconstruction, said Tsochev, but added that the Agency has proposed additional measures to increase security, just in case.

The conclusions from the stress tests at "Belene" are that the plant is resistant to earthquakes, 40% stronger than the project design, and the project provides solutions for the entire spectrum of emergencies. It has been proven that an adequate response is planned for any emergency.

Experts foudn that "Belene" has a modern design with a high level of safety which far outstrips the level of safety of nuclear facilities in Bulgaria and the world, said the Head of the Nuclear Regulatory Agency. He explained that the Belene project provides both active and passive safety systems.

It became clear that next week the Nuclear Regulatory Agency will begin discussions with the NPP "Kozloduy" on the stated intentions to increase the power of Units 5 and 6.

Sergei Tsochev explained that "Kozloduy" is required to present a program for replacement of equipment four years prior to the expiration of the license of the available units - in 2013, since the license expires in 2017.

Power of the Units could be increased if "Kozloduy" demonstrates a capacity to do so in two years, according to Tsochev. He said that the NPP management has already submitted part of the documentation.

Now "Kozloduy" has three thousand megawatts of thermal power, which is 100% of the plant and the intention is to increase it to 104%. An increase by 4% corresponds to the thermal capacity of 3120 megawatts thermal power, as the Agency's Head explained.

Regarding statements of Traicho Traikov, Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism that the construction of a seventh unit at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant may start before the end of the GERB government's term in office, Tsochev was adamant the subject had never been discussed.

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Tags: Nuclear Regulatory Agency, Sergey Tsochev, Bulgaria, Nuclear Power Plant, NPP, stress test, report, Kozloduy, Belene, Fukushima, Traicho Traikov
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