Bulgarian regulator expects to approve site for new Kozloduy unit

18 January 2016

Bulgaria's Nuclear Regulation Agency (NRA) expects to issue an order of approval in July for the site for a new generating unit at the Kozloduy NPP, according to NRA Chairman Luchezar Kostov. He told a news conference that construction of unit 7 at the nuclear plant has now reached the stage of site selection.

Following the submission of the application in December 2015, a procedure was launched under the Public Procurement Act to select an external contractor to prepare an expert opinion on the site. Approval of the site will also require an effective environmental impact assessment which is currently challenged, he said.

Kostov added that the NRA has not yet received an application from the Kozloduy NPP to extend the operating licences and service lives of units 5 and 6. The licence for unit 5 expires in late October-early November 2017, and for unit 6 at the end of 2019. The applications to extend the licences must be made no later than 12 month before to the expiry of the current licences.

To obtain a new licence certain conditions must be met and a two-stage strategy has been developed to ensure compliance. Upgrading work is already underway at unit 5 with Russian assistance and the second stage of the strategy is to be completed by the end of 2016. The measures envisaged in the Updated National Action Plan drawn up after the European stress tests of nuclear facilities following the 2011 Fukushima accident are being implemented. To date, 54 of 77 measures, or 70%, have been completed. The remaining 23 measures should be completed by the end of 2017, NRA said.

NRA is currently reviewing the safety justification of a new type of nuclear fuel for units 5 and 6, NRA Deputy Chairman Borislav Stanimirov told the news conference. Stanimirov said that the new fuel has certain improvements in its construction for greater resistance better handling and increased power, NRA officials said. The fuel also makes it possible, should the operator so want, to increase the period of operation between refuellings from 12 to 18 months.

In 2015 NRA completed a review of the documentation for issuing an operational licence for a dry storage repository for used fuel at Kozloduy. Theoperational licence is to be issued in shortly, after a long period of preparatory work, Kostov said. He noted that last year NRA also received an application for approval of a site, for a national radioactive waste repository. The application was submitted by the State Enterprise for Radioactive Waste and is at a very advances stage, Kostov said. This will require an environmental impact assessment.

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