Compensation the topic for Bulgaria

09 March 2009

Bulgaria has abandoned efforts to restart its Kozloduy reactors and is instead focused on obtaining greater compensation for their early shutdown.


Kozloduy Protest (BORYANA KATSAROVA/AFP/Getty Images))
Protestors called for nuclear reactors to
be brought back in January (Image:
Boryana Katsarova/AFP/Getty Images)

The country's prime minister Sergei Stanishev said he believes he has a realistic chance of a generous settlement with the European Commission, which has promised to review compensation agreements this year.


"Our arguments are sufficiently convincing," he said last week shortly after travelling to Brussels, Belgium to meet with EC President Jose Manuel Barroso, financial affairs commissioner Joaquin Almunia, and energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs.


In December 2005 Bulgaria won the right to negotiate its compensation package during 2009, when EC budgets for 2010-2013 are set. The country is entitled to a package because it shut down two Soviet-era nuclear power reactors in order to accede to the European Union at the end of 2006. It did this despite extensive safety improvements that led both the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) to declare that the units now meet international safety standards.


There was serious discussion of restarting the reactors in the early days of this year, after the gas dispute between Ukraine and Russia led to Bulgaria losing its entire gas supply. Pro-nuclear protestors took to the streets to demand the restarts in order to alleviate freezing conditions.


The Gas War has sparked serious debate in Europe about how energy supplies can be secured and diversified, with nuclear energy seen as one supply option that fulfills both needs.