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Bulgaria’s Belene Nuclear Power Plant project unlikely to ever be built, now needs EU approval

Belene nuclear power plant will need new EU approval, Emerging Europe, November 23, 2018, Yoan Stanev 

The European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, has said that the commission’s approval for the Belene Nuclear Power Plant project – given more than a decade ago – is no longer valid. As such, Belene must be treated as a new project and must undergo a new assessment by the commission. Mr Cañete was responding to a question raised by a Bulgarian member of the European Parliament, Svetoslav Malinov, of Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria, part of the European People’s Party……..

“In practice, any new investors will have to agree to a project that is not currently approved by the European Commission and will still have to be assessed according to [now more] stringent European criteria after Fukushima,” said Mr Malinov, who added: “no investor will agree to this.”

Belene nuclear power plant will never be built, but it still offers the opportunity to steal money from Bulgarian taxpayers. Belene is dead. Why does GERB [Bulgaria’s ruling party] refuse to bury it?” said Mr Malinov.

The Bulgarian government has not yet responded to the commission’s statement and the energy ministry is still looking for strategic investors for the project and plans to make an announcement by the end of 2018. https://emerging-europe.com/news/belene-nuclear-power-plant-will-need-new-eu-approval/

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November 24, 2018 Posted by | Bulgaria, politics | Leave a comment

Dangerous Levels of Radiation in a Bay near Bulgarian Resort Chernomorets 

https://www.novinite.com/articles/190950/Dangerous+Levels+of+Radiation+in+a+Bay+near+Bulgarian+Resort+Chernomorets July 6, 2018, 

A new warning for dangerous levels of radiation in the Vromos Bay near Chernomorets was issued by the health authorities. In Bulgarian and English, a new plate warns that the sandy strip is dangerous, a BBC report showed.

Radiation contamination is high – in individual areas up to 50 times the norm. However, access to the beach is not prohibited, the risk of using it is the responsibility of the people on holiday.

Ore mined decades ago from the nearby Rosen mine were high in uranium. Part of the waste water is discharged into the bay.

“The difference in the content of radionuclides in the sand and in the soil along the sand strip in relation to this terrain compared to the other terrains we are exploring all along the Black Sea is here between 5 and 50 times.” The life of these radioisotope elements until decay is considerable, it exceeds 90-100 years, “explained Verginia Tsanova – Deputy Director, RZI – Burgas.

The effect of staying for a long time on the sand is not immediate, but it can be seen in years, warn health authorities. Small children also risk swallowing sand.

“It has a carcinogenic effect, and it leads to genetic mutations in the genital cells, from there to the offspring, which is extremely dangerous for young people and for pregnant women,” Tsanova added.

Verginia Tsanova stressed that there is no way to ban the use of the beach. “It’s people’s choice, we just have to warn them,” she said.

The beach is without a concessionaire and is preferred by families with children.

Source: Dnevnik

July 7, 2018 Posted by | Bulgaria, environment | Leave a comment

Russian-designed nuclear power plant causes tension in Bulgaria

 euronews,  

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Bulgaria, politics | Leave a comment

Russia, France, China compete to develop nuclear power station in Bulgaria

Bulgaria Moves To Revive Russian Nuclear Project Suspended In 2012   https://www.rferl.org/a/bulgaria-moves-revive-russian-nuclear-project-belene-suspended-2012/29279066.html

The Bulgarian parliament has approved a plan to revive the Belene nuclear power plant five years after the Russian project was suspended due to financing problems and concerns about relying too heavily on Russian energy.

The parliament on June 7 approved by 172 to 14 Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s proposal to develop a plan to resume construction of the plant on the Danube River by the end of October.

Bulgaria had already spent around $1.8 billion on the plant when the government in 2012 put a moratorium on further workunder pressure from the United States and European Union to limit its energy dependence on Russia.

Bulgaria also suspended the joint project with Russian company Atomstroyexport because it failed to find any foreign investors prepared to shoulder its spiralling costs, estimated at about $11.8 billion in total.

The suspension angered Russia, which had hoped to use Belene as an EU showcase for its new generation of pressurized water reactors.

Sofia had to pay more than 620 million euros to Russia’s Rosatom for scrapping the project, but it also received nuclear parts for two 1,000 megawatt reactors, which were conserved and maintained.

Last week, Energy Minister Temenujka Petkova said that a campaign to pick a strategic investor for the project would be launched by the end of 2018.

Russia’s Rosatom has said it will make another bid to complete the project. Also in the running are Chinese state nuclear company CNNC and France’s Framatome, which is majority controlled by EDF.

Petkova said the government does not want to commit more public funds, extend state guarantees for any loan, or sign any long-term electricity supply deals to make the project viable.

Vadim Titov, director of Rosatom Central Europe, told a Bulgarian energy conference on June 7 that the Russian company is ready to start talks with the Bulgarian authorities on reviving the project.

The Belene plant’s two 1,000 megawatt reactors were intended to replace four old Soviet-built units that were shut down more than a decade ago amid security concerns at the only existing nuclear plant in Bulgaria, at Kozloduy.

There are still two Soviet-built operational reactors at Kozloduy, dating back to 1987 and 1991, which provide about 30 percent of the country’s electricity.

Dozens of Bulgarians protested outside parliament against the government’s plans for Belene on June 7, saying the project’s benefits were not enough to justify its costs and contending that it has been a source of corrupt practices for decades.

June 8, 2018 Posted by | Bulgaria, marketing | Leave a comment

Bulgaria’s struggle to find the money for building Belene nuclear power project

Reuters 12th May 2018 , Bulgaria’s government will ask parliament to give it the authority to
negotiate with investors to build the Belene nuclear power project on the
Danube River, the prime minister said on Saturday.

The Black Sea state initially canceled the project, estimated to cost about 10 billion euros,
in 2012 after failing to find foreign investors and bowing to U.S. and
European Union pressure to limit the country’s energy dependence on
Russia, which would have supplied some equipment.

The current government of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, however, is renewing the search for private
investors to build the plant after an arbitration court ruled in 2016 that
Bulgaria must pay more than 600 million euros ($717 million) in
compensation to Russian state nuclear company Rosatom due to the
cancellation.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bulgaria-nuclear-belene/bulgarian-government-to-seek-mandate-for-talks-with-investors-over-nuclear-plant-idUSKCN1ID0TE

May 16, 2018 Posted by | Bulgaria, business and costs, politics | Leave a comment

Bulgaria trying to get private investors for its nuclear project

Bulgaria Seeks Private Investors for Nuclear Project, US News,  May 11, 2017, SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria is seeking private investors to build a nuclear power plant on the Danube River, which was canceled five years ago, Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

Sofia canceled the Belene project in 2012 after failing to find foreign investors and under pressure from Brussels and Washington to limit its energy dependence on Russia………It hopes to privatize the nuclear plant project after it paid more than 600 million euros ($652 million) in compensation to Russia’s state nuclear giant Rosatom when it canceled the 10 billion euro project. Rosatom had agreed to provide the nuclear reactors…….https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-05-11/bulgaria-seeks-private-investors-for-nuclear-project

May 12, 2017 Posted by | Bulgaria, business and costs | Leave a comment

Bulgaria pays compensation damages to Russia, for scrapping Belene nuclear plant

Bulgaria’s NEK settles arbitration damages for shelved Belene nuclear plant  http://sofiaglobe.com/2016/12/09/bulgarias-nek-settles-arbitration-damages-for-shelved-belene-nuclear-plant/ Bulgaria’s state-owned electric utility NEK has paid 601.6 million euro in damages to Atomstroyexport, the foreign contracts subsidiary of Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom, Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova said on December 9 during question time in Parliament.

The money was transferred into Atomstroyexport’s accounts on December 8, Petkova said.

In a statement, Atomstroyexport confirmed receipt of the funds and was satisfied with the fact that NEK disbursed its commitments in full under the terms of an agreement signed in October, which saw the Russian company drop the daily penalty interest as long as NEK paid the principal owed by December 15.

The accumulated amount of daily penalties would have reached 23.8 million euro by that date. NEK’s agreement with Atomstroyexport also saw the Russian company accept a 20.9 million euro deduction in the original amount of damages ordered by arbitration, following several objections raised by the Bulgarian side to the calculation methodology.

Atomstroyexport was picked to build two 1000MW nuclear reactors at Belene on the Danube River, a project that was shut down by Bulgaria in 2012. The Russian contractor filed for arbitration, asking for 1.2 billion euro in damages for equipment ordered for the nuclear power plant, which NEK never paid for, and won the court action in June, although it was awarded just over half of the amount it claimed.

NEK decided not to appeal the ruling in September after Parliament passed a bill on September 28 that authorised a cash injection from the state Budget to NEK to pay the damages awarded by the tribunal.

The delay in the disbursement was due to the fact that Bulgaria was waiting for the European Commission to rule on whether such a transfer was allowed under the EU’s state aid rules. The Commission gave its approval earlier this week, according to reports in Bulgarian media.

NEK will now take ownership of the equipment manufactured by Atomstroyexport, but uncertainty remains about what the company will do next. Bulgarian officials travelled to Iran earlier this year to discuss a possible sale of the equipment, but there has been no development in the months since then.

Speaking to reporters in Parliament on December 9, Petkova said the Belene assets – the site itself and the equipment from Atomstroyexport – could be spun off into a separate company that would be put up for privatisation.

“If there is [investor] interest, then the [Belene nuclear power plant] project could be carried out on a market basis. If there is no investor interest, we will go in another direction and seek other options,” she said, as quoted by Bulgarian National Radio.

December 10, 2016 Posted by | Bulgaria, business and costs, politics | Leave a comment

China’s global nuclear marketing drive -= now looking to Bulgaria

nuclear-marketing-crapChina eyes nuclear project in Bulgaria http://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/china-eyes-nuclear-project-in-bulgaria/ A delegation from the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), the country’s largest state energy company, visited Sofia and met with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, to possibly resuscitate a shelved nuclear power plant project.The Belene nuclear power plant, situated near the Danube, was frozen in 2012, reportedly due to a lack of funds.

December 9, 2016 Posted by | Bulgaria, China, marketing | 1 Comment

Bulgarian prosecutors charge former economy and energy minister over botched nuclear power project

legal costsBulgarian ex-energy minister charged over nuclear project http://www.reuters.com/article/us-bulgaria-nuclear-charge-idUSKBN13C1KP   17 Nov 16, Bulgarian prosecutors charged former economy and energy minister Rumen Ovcharov on Thursday with mismanagement that led to state losses of more than 190 million euros ($200 million) related to a canceled nuclear power project with Russia’s Atomstroyexport.

Bulgaria canceled the 10-billion-euro Belene project on the Danube River in 2012 after failing to find foreign investors and under pressure from Brussels and Washington to limit its energy dependence on Russia.

An arbitration court has ruled Bulgaria needs to pay over 600 million euros in compensation to Atomstroyexport over the project, which analysts and politicians say reflects widespread corruption in the Balkan country.

Prosecutors charged Ovcharov, energy minister from 2005 to 2007 in a Socialist-led government, for failing to exercise sufficient control over the executive directors of state energy company NEK and allowing them to sign a deal with Atomstroyexport for the nuclear power plant at Belene.

The prosecutors said that in November 2006 NEK’s chief executives signed a 193 million euro agreement with the Russian company to start work on the project in breach of public procurement laws and before the plant’s financing was agreed.

Prosecutors have already pressed similar charges against Ovcharov’s successor, former economy and energy minister Petar Dimitrov.

 Last month the former directors of NEK, Lubomir Velkov and Mardik Papazian, were charged with causing financial damage by signing another deal with Atomstroyexport, costing the business more than 77 million euros.

Ovcharov has previously denied any wrongdoing. He was not immediately available for comment.

 Prosecutors are expected to charge Delyan Dobrev, energy minister in the centrist government of Boiko Borisov, for failing to take steps to stop payments to a consultant company engaged with the Belene project after it was canceled. (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Adrian Croft/Ruth Pitchford)

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Bulgaria, Legal | Leave a comment

Bulgaria has to quickly pay up for cancelled Belene nuclear project

Russia demands swift payment for canceled Bulgarian nuclear plant  , Reuters, 10 Sept 16 Russian nuclear company Rosatom has asked Bulgaria to swiftly pay 620 million euros ($696 million) in compensation over the canceled Belene nuclear project, it said on Saturday.

An arbitration court ruled in June that Sofia must pay for the equipment produced by Rosatom for the project, which Bulgaria abandoned in 2012 due to financial constraints and concerns in Brussels and Washington over its energy dependence on Russia…….Bulgaria’s prime minister has said that the compensation, estimated by Sofia at about 560 million euros, will be paid in full and quickly, to avoid paying interest of 167,000 euros a day.

Bulgaria is considering selling the 2,000 megawatt nuclear project to private investors, keeping a small state stake in it, after its attempt to sell the equipment to Iran did not succeed.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Alexander Smith) http://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-bulgaria-idUSKCN11G0D7

September 12, 2016 Posted by | Bulgaria, business and costs | Leave a comment

Bulgaria seeks solution for costly blowout for Belene nuclear power plant

Bulgaria seeks least worst outcome for Belene nuclear fiasco BME IntelliNews,  By Clare Nuttall in Bucharest August 25, 2016 More than two months after an international court ruled Bulgaria must compensate Russia’s Atomstroyexport for work carried out on the Belene nuclear power plant, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s government is still struggling to find ways to minimise the financial damage from the project, which was cancelled back in 2013.

A Geneva-based court under the auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce ruled on June 16 that Bulgaria’s state National Electricity Company (NEK) must pay €550mn to Atomstroyexport, a unit of Rosatom, for the nuclear reactor the Russian company has already produced.

While the figure is lower than the €1.2bn sought by Atomstroyexport, it is a substantial sum for Sofia, when taken in combination with the €708mn Bulgaria has already sunk into the project. In addition, Bulgaria faces a bill of around €170,000 in penalty interest per week.

In an analyst note issued after the ruling, Timothy Ash of Nomura wrote that the order to pay compensation was a “significant blow to Bulgaria, with a cost of well over 1% of GDP eventually likely to fall on public finances”.

The options for the Bulgarian government are limited; far from finding the optimal solution for the country, it is a case of searching for the least costly and damaging outcome……..

White elephant

The third option put forward by Sofia is instructing the country’s privatisation agency to sell the project to private investors, who would then complete it with the help of the state. Again, it is questionable how realistic this is – there have long been doubts as to whether Bulgaria needs additional generation capacity. However, on August 24 Novinite reported that Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova had met with representatives of China General Nuclear power Group (CGN) to discuss Belene, reportedly at the request of the Chinese company………

Reviving the project could therefore be a case of throwing good money after bad, as Sofia invests yet more money only to end up with a costly white elephant power plant. This is the argument put forward by Greenpeace Bulgaria, which campaigned against Belene together with several other environmental NGOs.

“The government is trying to find a pretty way out of the situation but in reality there is no accountability for the over €1bn spent on this project,” Greenpeace Bulgaria spokesperson Denitza Petrova told bne IntelliNews. She claims that Belene “has never been economically viable … There will be no private investor in it as it is risky and useless, and will not pay off the investment.”……..http://www.intellinews.com/bulgaria-seeks-least-worst-outcome-for-belene-nuclear-fiasco-104739/

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Bulgaria, business and costs, politics | Leave a comment

Bulgaria hoping for private investors to revive Belene nuclear power project

Bulgaria to revive Belene nuclear power project with private help http://www.reuters.com/article/us-bulgaria-nuclear-idUSKCN10N154 Bulgaria wants private investors to help it restart the Belene nuclear power project after a court ruled Sofia must pay hefty compensation to Russia over equipment ordered for it, Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said on Friday.

The Balkan country had canceled the 2,000 megawatt project on the Danube River in 2012 due to financial constraints and after pressure from Brussels and Washington, who said it would only increase Bulgaria’s dependence on Russian energy imports.

An international arbitration court ruled in June that Sofia should pay more than 550 million euros ($623 million) in compensation to Russian nuclear giant Rosatom over the two nuclear reactors ordered.

“We have a very changed situation,” Borisov told local media. “We are obliged to pay for these two reactors.”

Borisov, however, said that the Black Sea state still does not have enough financial resources to build the nuclear plant.”Let us make it a private project through the privatization agency with various options for the state’s share. This is the solution,” he said.

Bulgaria had been hoping to sell the equipment or the whole project to Iran and Borisov visited Tehran in July to test the ground for a possible deal, for which the consent of Rosatom was also needed. (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova and Angel Krasimirov)

August 13, 2016 Posted by | Bulgaria, business and costs, politics | 1 Comment

Bulgaria must pay Russia over cancelled nuclear project, says court.

Court orders Bulgaria to pay Russia over cancelled nuclear project: minister  http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-bulgaria-russia-arbitration-idUKKCN0Z213A ,  Jun 16, 2016  

An arbitration court has ruled that Bulgarian state energy firm NEK should pay nearly 550 million euros (437.70 million pound) in compensation to Russia‘s Atomstroyexport for a cancelled nuclear power project, Bulgaria’s energy minister said on Thursday.

“NEK received the court’s decision late last night. It is still not handed down officially. In the next days, NEK will approach Atomstroyexport over the decision,” Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova told reporters.

Atomstroyexport had sought more than 1 billion euros at the Paris-based International Court of Arbitration against NEK over the cancellation of the Belene nuclear power plant it had been contracted to build.

NEK teamed up with Atomstroyexport to build two 1,000 megawatt reactors at Belene, on the Danube River at the border with Romania, in 2006.

Sofia abandoned the project in 2012, after it failed to attract investors for the 10 billion euros ($11 billion) scheme and also came under pressure from its Western allies about its energy dependence on Moscow.

Petkova said the court has ruled that NEK should cover the funds the Russian state company had spent to produce equipment for the project, but has rejected claims for additional works and damages from lost profits.

Bulgaria is currently extending the lifespan of its two 1,000 Soviet-made reactors at its Kozloduy nuclear power plant and is looking for an investor to build one more reactor at the same site.

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Bulgaria, Legal, Russia | Leave a comment

Bulgaria pulls out of $4bn Westinghouse nuclear deal

nuclear-costs1Bulgaria drops $4bn Westinghouse nuclear deal  Yahoo 7 News, April 1, 2015  Sofia (AFP) – Bulgaria has dropped a deal with US-based firm Westinghouse Electric to build a new reactor at its only nuclear plant because of financial pressures, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov announced Wednesday.

“We cannot uphold the agreement” which is worth $4 billion (3.8 billion euros), Borisov told parliament, adding that the cash-strapped country was unable to shoulder the costs…….

Westinghouse, a subsidiary of Japanese company Toshiba, had initially planned to take a 30-percent stake in the Kozloduy project, but Bulgarian media reported that it now refused to invest in the deal.

The company has not yet commented on Borisov’s announcement.

In 2012, Bulgaria was forced to drop another project, this time to build two Russian VVER 1,000-megawatt reactors at the planned Belene nuclear plant in the country’s north.http://news.yahoo.com/bulgaria-drops-4bn-westinghouse-nuclear-deal-161118449.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory&soc_trk=tw

April 4, 2015 Posted by | Bulgaria, business and costs, politics | Leave a comment

Bulgarian government confirms it will not build new nuclear power plant

Failed referendum leaves Bulgaria without nuclear future Rt 31 January, 2013,  A referendum on nuclear energy in Bulgaria failed due to low turnout, and the country’s ruling party has confirmed it will not build a new nuclear plant….. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov confirmed that his ruling center-right GERB party would not resume construction on a nuclear power plant in Belene.

In March 2012, the GERB party scrapped the 2,000-megawatt nuclear plant project, which had been under construction by Russia’s Atomstroyexport since 2008. The Bulgarian government said that the country could no longer afford the plant’s 6.4-billion euro price tag……

Kozloduy’s two operational 1,000-megawatt reactors, designed by the Soviet Union, were modernized in 2005 and 2006 to meet EU safety demands. They will be operable until 2027 and 2032 respectively, at which point Bulgaria will no longer generate nuclear energy.

February 1, 2013 Posted by | Bulgaria, politics | Leave a comment