Bulgaria has signed a €72 million ($80 million) agreement with a consortium to build a radioactive waste repository for its Kozloduy nuclear power plant that is expected start operations in 2021, the country's energy ministry said yesterday. The consortium consists of German Nukem Technologies, which is owned by Russia's AtomStroyExport, and four Bulgarian companies.

 

The contract was signed by the executive director of State Enterprise Radioactive Waste SE (SERAW), Dilyan Petrov, and representatives of the consortium. The signing ceremony was also attended by Nikolay Nikolov, Bulgaria's deputy energy minister, and Vince Novak, director of nuclear safety at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). SERAW is responsible for the decommissioning of units 1-4 and the national radioactive waste disposal facility.

 

During the ceremony, Nikolov stressed the crucial importance of a national repository for nuclear waste management in the country. "The project will boost the process of decommissioning the shutdown units of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant," he said, according to the ministry's statement.

Nikolov said the €72 million allocated for construction of the first phase of the facility is a "significant" amount. The project is to be funded by a grant from the Kozloduy International Decommissioning Support Fund, which is administered by the EBRD.

 

The London-based bank and the European Commission conduct "continuous monitoring" of the use of the fund and the management of projects it supports, the ministry said. The first stage of the project to build the repository will include development of licensing documents for the facility's commissioning in accordance with national nuclear legislation, it added.

 

The "near-surface trench type" repository will have a capacity of 138,200 cubic meters and be located in the 3 km "surveillance zone" of the Kozloduy plant, it said. The facility will consist of several concrete structures separated by the partitioned chambers. It will be filled with radioactive waste over the next 60 years, it added.

 

During European Union accession negotiations, Bulgaria committed to closing Kozloduy 1 and 2 by the end of 2002 and units 3 and 4 by the end of 2006. All four units are V-230 model VVER-440 reactors, which the European Commission had earlier classified as non-upgradable. However, units 3 and 4 were of an improved design and closer to the later V-213 design than any others of their class. Despite a 2005 opinion poll showing 75% support for keeping the two reactors running, the government finally ordered them to be shut down at the end of December 2006. Bulgaria joined the EU on 1 January 2007.

An upgrade and modernisation program for the V-320 units 5 and 6 extended to 2006, but the safety of these units is not in question, as they conform well to international standards.

The Kozloduy plant is situated close to the Danube River border with Romania.


Reprinted from World Nuclear News