Belene nuclear power plant construction starts

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The groundbreaking ceremony for the official start of construction on the second Bulgarian Belene nuclear power plant is scheduled for September 3. Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev will turn the first sod, according to the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s press centre in the northern city of Pleven, as quoted by Bulgarian-language daily Dnevnik.

The company chosen to build the project is the Russian firm Atomstroyexport. For the official opening the Economy and Energy Minister Petar Dimitrov is also expected to attend, as well as energy specialists and MPs. Later, during the day, Stanishev is planning to meet people from Belene and nearby villages.

Belene is in northern Bulgaria on the riverbank of Danube. According to environmentalists it occupies a very dangerous seismic area. The fact that the ground for Belene nuclear power plant will be broken is itself controversial because the Nuclear Regulatory Agency had not yet issued a technical licence for the nuclear station, Petko Kovachev from BeleNE coalition (No to Belene) and Zelenite political party (Bulgarian Greens) told The Sofia Echo on September 2.

The National Electricity Company provides 51 per cent of the finance for Belene nuclear power plant. The state is still looking for an investor for the remaining 49 per cent. The deadline for filing an application expired at the end of June 2008 by which time only the Belgium Electrabel and the German RWE had filed proposals.

The state did not approve the two proposals by the end of July as expected and still has not secured finance for the remaining 49 per cent of Belene nuclear power plant, Kovachev said. According to him, the groundbreaking ceremony was merely a government media stunt designed to stem popular ill-feeling against it.

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