The European Commission at the end of May signed a E 212.5 million ($197.1 million) loan to modernise the two younger reactors at Bulgaria’s Kozloduy nuclear plant.
Bulgaria started talks on joining the European Union in March, and agreed to close the four oldest VVER-440 reactors at Kozloduy earlier than it had wanted. The loan, which has a term of 20 years with five years grace period, would contribute towards a project costing a total of E490 million to upgrade two of the reactors to internationally acceptable safety standards.
The loan will be guaranteed by the Bulgarian government and the Bulgarian National Electricity Company (NEK), and will be made in several instalments between 2000 and 2005, a Commission statement said. The first payment will be due this year.
The balance of the cost of the programme is to be covered by US and Russian export credit funds and by the Kozloduy plant, which was recently set up as a separate legal entity. Bulgaria’s finance minister Muravei Radev said that if the Bulgarian parliament approves the loan deal, the Commission will disburse the first tranche of the loan. Bulgarian officials began negotiating the loan deal in November of 1999 and secured the Commission’s agreement in March.
Westinghouse and a group including Atomenergoexsport of Russia, Framatome of France and Siemens of Germany were chosen to carry out the project and have already begun work.
Kozloduy plant manager Yordan Yordanov said decommissioning the first two units of the plant will not cause power shortages, but will make the plant more efficient.
Final defuelling of the units will be completed in 2006.