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Belene Project Needs Strategic Investor, Says Nuclear CEO

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The project to build a new nuclear plant consisting of two reactors at the Belene nuclear site in Bulgaria could be “unfrozen” if a strategic investor can be found, the chief executive officer of the Kozloduy nuclear plant has said.

Valentin Nikolov, who is also a former member of parliament for the ruling centre-right party Citizens for European Development (GERB), told Bulgarian National Television that GERB has not given up entirely on building two new reactors at Belene, but the plan was frozen because of a lack of investors.

“The major issue is the cost of the project. That includes the cost of storing used nuclear fuel, because under a new EU directive we would not be able to export it [the fuel] to Russia,” he said.

Mr Nikolov said he supports the financing of a seventh unit at the Kozloduy plant, where there are two units in commercial operation and four that have been shut down.

GERB has proposed the construction of a 1,000-megawatt unit at Kozloduy instead of building two 2,000-megawatt units at Belene. The party also wants to extend the operating lives of the two existing Kozloduy reactors.

The final results of a January referendum in Bulgaria mean the issue of new nuclear build will now be debated in the country’s parliament. GERB said it is “considering the next steps” and believes the future of the Belene project will probably not be decided until after parliamentary elections this summer.

The referendum was called by the Bulgarian Socialist Party in an effort to force GERB to review its decision not to build new units at Belene.