Bulgaria signs deal for radioactive waste depot

25th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Bulgaria signed a deal Tuesday with a Spanish-German consortium for a new radioactive waste depot near its Kozloduy nuclear power plant on the Danube, the energy ministry announced.

The consortium -- including Westinghouse Electric Spain, DBE Technology Germany and ENRESA Spain -- was picked in a government tender to develop the technical aspect and conduct safety analysis for the project, planned to open by 2015.

The depot will have a capacity of 138,200 cubic metres, or 345,500 tonnes, of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste, or almost 100 times the annual amount generated at Kozloduy, the ministry said in a statement.

Its construction will cost 120 million euros ($167 million), it added.

The money will come from the Kozloduy International Decommissioning Support Fund established in 2001 to help Bulgaria cope with the early closure of four of the plant's Soviet-built units, a prerequisite to joining the European Union.

Bulgaria will be able to deposit waste in the depot for 60 years and keep it safe for another 300 years, Energy Minister Traicho Traikov said in the statement.

"Kozloduy is not just cheap energy. Operating a nuclear power facility entails responsibilities for the decommissioning and storage of nuclear waste, which is just as important," he said.

The depot will use state-of-the-art module unit technology that allows gradual expansion of its capacity depending on waste disposal needs, the minister said.

Bulgaria already opened this year its first dry cask storage site for spent fuel from its sole nuclear power plant, after decades of shipping it back to its Russian supplier.

Two 1,000-megawatt reactors remain in operation at Kozloduy after the closure of the four smaller units to secure EU accession in 2007.

© 2011 AFP

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