Bulgaria to build the first Russian-designed nuclear reactor in the EU

Published 5 December 2007

Bulgaria will be the first EU country to build a nuclear power plant based on Russian design; the plant will be built at a site deemed unsafe two decades ago because it was prone to earthquakes

Bulgaria will build the first Russian-designed nuclear power plant in the European Union. The planned site for the plant , however, was rejected in the 1980s because it was prone to earthquakes. The proposed site, at Belene, is near an active fault, according to Gueorgui Kastchiev, the former head of Bulgaria’s nuclear plant at Kozloduy — where four of the six Russian reactors have been deemed unsafe and shut down. Last week, Kastchiev argued that the site was rejected in the 1980s by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Soviet experts. In 1977 an earthquake killed 120 people in a village fifteen kilometers away. Also, Kastchiev says, the design is untested, and Bulgaria has a poor safety culture. “The proposed nuclear site was rejected in the 1980s as it was prone to earthquakes”Bulgaria’s National Electricity Company denies that the region is prone to serious earthquakes.

In the next few weeks, a European Commission panel is expected to issue a favorable report on the proposed nuclear plant, which would help the country win much-needed construction loans.