Bulgarian Parliament Confirms Decision to Scrap Belene N-Plant

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bulgaria's Parliament confirmed Wednesday the country's decision to abandon the Belene nuclear power plant project.

The vote was prompted by a recent referendum on the construction of a new nuclear power plant in the country.

Under the law, the recent referendum results imposed for the Belene NPP to be put back on the Parliament's agenda, as voter turnout slightly exceeded 20%. 61% of the voters said "yes" to the construction of a new nuclear power plant; 39% cast a "no" ballot.

The right-wing Blue Coalition and the ruling center-right GERB have opposed plans for the construction of Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant, while the left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party and the far-right nationalist Ataka have fervently supported the project.

Ahead of the Tuesday sitting, the Blue Coalition tabled a proposal to scrap the project for good, while BSP countered with the exactly opposite one.

A total of 114 MPs voted in favor of the Blue Coalition's proposal, while 40 were against.

A total of 96 lawmakers voted against BSP's proposal, while 33 were in favor and one abstained.

Lawmakers from BSP and Ataka expressed their hope that the next Parliament will revive the project.

Borisov's GERB government scrapped the project for the construction of Belene back in March 2012. The move led Russia's Rosatom to file a suit with an international arbitration court in Paris.

After it was first started in the 1980s, the construction of Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant at Belene on the Danube was stopped in the early 1990s over lack of money and environmental protests.

The Belene NPP has been de facto frozen since the fall of 2009 when the previously selected strategic investor, the German company RWE, which was supposed to provide EUR 2 B in exchange for a 49% stake, pulled out.

Borisov and his Cabinet resigned last week amidst mass protest rallies against unbearable utility bills and wide-spread poverty that turned into a civil unrest against the political model of ruling the country.

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