Bulgaria believes that a review will find that the reactors are safe to operate beyond 2006 — the date when the EC insists they must be closed. Recent studies have concluded that the VVER-440/213 reactors are well within IAEA safety parameters.
Bulgaria has been arguing for closure dates no sooner than 2008 and 2010 for units 3 and 4 respectively. Following the announcement of the review, Bulgaria agreed to the 2006 date, thus allowing the accession talks on energy, one of 30 policy areas, to be concluded. The closure of chapter 14 (the energy chapter) brings the number of chapters completed for Bulgaria to 23.
In October, the Bulgarian parliament signed a declaration stating that the country would not close the units until after joining the EU. Should the accession talks be concluded next year, Bulgaria should be able to join the European Union by 1 January 2007. Although it would slow down the progress of talks, it is possible for the energy chapter to be re-opened.
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