Tuesday, May 9, 2006

The fifth block of the Kozlodui Nuclear Power Plant will re-open after the planned June 15 closure only if the Russian company Hydropress that constructed the plant guarantees there will be no more failures of the security system.

Deputy chairman of the Bulgarian Nuclear Regulatory Agency (BNRA) Borislav Stanimirov said that experts hoped to detect the reason for the March 1 incident before the closure of the reactor. Only then experts can take additional precautions guaranteeing a safe shut-down, 24 Chassa newspaper reported. On March 1 the security system failed, leading to the closure of the whole reactor.

According to plan the reactor should re-open in September.

BNRA chairman Sergei Tsochev said that the March 1 security system failure was ranked as level two or 'an incident' according to the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). The last time there was an 'incident' in Kozlodui NPP was back in 1998, when one of the smaller blocks failed.

According to Hydropress preliminary ranking, however, this is a level one event, meaning only an 'anomaly'. The final failure assessment is expected on May 19.

In the meantime, the state is searching for a site near the Kozlodui and Belene NPP for the safe disposal of the nuclear refuse. The main concern is the seismological activity in the region. A company has been appointed to survey the public opinion on the nuclear refuse disposal problems.

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