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Nuclear Restart

DPA news agency (dfm)January 23, 2009

Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev's cabinet has been ordered by his country's parliament to explore the possibilities for restarting a collection of Bulgaria's dormant nuclear reactors.

The Kozloduy nuclear power plant 240 kilometers north of the Bulgarian capital Sofia
The Kozloduy power plant is Bulgaria's only nuclear reactorImage: AP

The order came as the country creaks under pressure from the global financial crisis and is wary of future gas crises which could disrupt supplies from Russia.

The assembly voted 140-48 for the motion to prod the government into trying to negotiate a new lease of life for two of the four decommissioned Soviet-era reactors at the Kozloduy power plant.

The 2006 closure of two of the 440-megawatt reactors, considered unsafe by the European Union, was one of the conditions Bulgaria had to meet to join the bloc in 2007. The two other Soviet-era reactors had already been switched off in 2002.

Kozloduy, Bulgaria's only nuclear plant, continues to operate on two modern, Russian-built 1,000-megawatt reactors.

Bulgaria has also revived plans to build another nuclear plant at Belene, 100 kilometers downstream on the Danube.

Friday's parliamentary decision posited that Bulgaria should consider bringing the newer generators back online in cooperation with Brussels.

Bulgarian officials, including President Georgi Parvanov, argued for the restart of the old Kozloduy installations during the recent Russia-Ukraine gas row, which hit Bulgaria hard causing industry loses in excess of 196 million leva ($130 million).