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Low turnout in Bulgaria’s nuclear referendum – invalidates result

Bulgaria nuclear vote ‘invalidated by low turnout’ 27 Jan 13,    A
controversial referendum on whether to build a new nuclear power plant
in Bulgaria appears to have been invalidated by low turnout.

An exit poll put turnout at around 20% – far below the 60% required
for the poll, which was called on the basis of an opposition petition.

The opposition Socialists want the centre-right government to reverse
its decision not to build the plant.

The poll has been seen as a barometer for elections later this year.

It was also important as a measure of attitudes to Russia, which was
contracted to build the plant, the BBC’s Nick Thorpe reports from

If the poor turnout is confirmed by official results, this will mean
that parliament must debate the issue, but the government is not
obliged to build anything, he adds.

Existing plant
The government says it supports the provision of nuclear power from an
existing plant at Kozloduy, but that it does not have the 10bn euros
(£6.3bn; $13.4bn) it says would be needed to build a new plant.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov told local media that this would remain
the case even if Bulgarians voted in favour of a new nuclear plant.

Bulgaria had to close four of its old reactors at Kozloduy as a
precondition for its 2007 EU membership.

The government froze plans to finish the plant at Belene last year,
when work at the site on the southern bank of the River Danube was
already well under way.The Socialists are seen as closely linked to
the Belene project, having granted a construction contract for the
plant to Russian state company Atomstroyexport in 2008.

They say Belene would now cost 4-6bn euros to complete, and would
lower electricity costs for consumers.

Environmentalists had opposed the plant, which had first been proposed
when Bulgaria was under communist rule.


January 28, 2013 - Posted by | Bulgaria, politics


  1. “….Party leader Sergey Stanishev billed the referendum as the country taking a choice to be either a nation of ‘engineers’ or a nation of ‘shepherds’. …..”

    ‘Yes’ vote for Bulgarian nuclear

    28 January 2013
    Voters in Bulgaria’s referendum have chosen a path of nuclear development for the country’s future, although the matter remains with a government that is yet to commit to Belene or an alternative plan for Kozloduy.

    It was around ten years ago that Bulgaria opened a tender for two new reactors at the Belene site in the north of the country – and six years ago that AtomStroyExport of Russia was selected as the supplier. The project was meant to replace lost generating capacity after early shutdowns at Kozloduy and restore Bulgaria’s status as a regional energy exporter. However, the Belene project has continually faltered, with the withdrawal of RWE as an investor in 2009 and disputes with Rosatom over pricing.

    The debate continues on Bulgaria’s energy future, with political parties still discussing who is to blame for the stalling of plans for Belene and the government forwarding ideas to shift the new build from Belene to Kozloduy. Rosatom maintains a firm position that the project is contracted and should go ahead, but such has been the delay that major components originally meant for Belene have been used at Kalinin 4.

    The official notice of the referendum reminded participants that the country’s energy policy of June 2011, ‘declared its support for the development of nuclear energy… in search of a reasonable balance between available energy resources in the country and European targets for clean energy.’ It also said that, ‘decisions on the specific socio-economic, technical and financial parameters of each project are the responsibility of the council of ministers’.

    A referendum on 27 January has somewhat reaffirmed Bulgaria’s desire for nuclear energy with 61% of voters saying ‘yes’ to building a new nuclear power plant in the country in a yes-no vote.

    The turnout of just 21% was far below the 60% required for the result to be binding,

    but above the 20% required to trigger official debate and consideration in parliament. Public support for nuclear has been seen as strong in Bulgaria, given a longstanding campaign to restart reactors at Kozloduy that even saw people take to the streets during a gas shortage in January 2009.
    The referendum was the intiative of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), which began the Belene project when in power and mobilized 770,000 supporters to campaign for a ‘yes’ result. Party leader Sergey Stanishev billed the referendum as the country taking a choice to be either a nation of ‘engineers’ or a nation of ‘shepherds’.

    Options and partners

    Prime minister Boyko Borisov of the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party recently visited Austria, which has long held anti-nuclear policies.

    Standing alongside Erwin Pröll, the governor of Lower Austria, he declared energy efficiency to be a major priority for Bulgarian infrastructure and an ‘alternative’ to nuclear power in terms of meeting immediate demand.

    The pair then began talks on exploration for gas and commercial cooperation on the Nabucco gas pipeline, which would provide a route for natural gas imports from eastern Turkey to a distribution hub in Austria, passing through Bulgaria on the way.

    nice headline by but a bit inaccurate i think?
    Researched and written
    by World Nuclear News

    hehe! i do like the wnn website though , it can be informative.. if a teensy wee bit biased…!

    Comment by arclight2011 | January 29, 2013 | Reply

  2. The downfall of the Belene project was economic. Building the plant is just too expensive, the prospects that it would pay for itself were murky, and Russian credit would have added to the debt load of the country as well as its political dependence. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has said that independent of the referendums results, there are simply no means to build the new plant, RIA Novosti reported.

    looks like WNN missed that quote from Prime Minister Boyko Borisov!!

    Comment by arclight2011 | January 30, 2013 | Reply

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