Shutdown aid flows eastwards

1 January 2003

Three international programmes to support decommissioning of Soviet-designed reactors in central and eastern Europe are going well, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The most advanced of the efforts, the Ignalina International Decommissioning Support Fund, is expected to receive an additional r60 million from the European Commission, allowing the EBRD to proceed early next year with projects to build nuclear waste facilities at Ignalina, said Vince Novak, director of the EBRD's Nuclear Safety Department. The fund has already allocated E145 million in grants for Ignalina decommissioning projects, including spent fuel storage and a new heating plant that will be needed after 2005, when Ignalina 1 is scheduled to shut down.

The new heating plant will be the only source of heat for the plant town of Visaginas after the shutdown of the second of the two RBMK-1500 units in 2009.

The second programme in EBRD's decommissioning focus concerns the VVER-440s at Kozloduy 1-4. Two projects sponsored by the Kozloduy International Decommissioning Support Fund (KID) have been delayed. The KID is financing a new district heating network for Sofia, but this has made no progress since August, when the agreement for that project was signed with Bulgaria, because the city's municipal utility had debt issues that were not resolved. Novak said that this problem has been resolved.

The other project is the constitution of a project management unit (PMU) at Kozloduy to oversee contracts let by Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) management with grant money from the KID fund. The tendering process for the PMU was disrupted earlier this year by a charge by one competing contractor of unfair advantages held by Belgatom. Novak said that this issue has now been resolved. Although normally PMUs should be in place before tendering on the projects begins, the EBRD allowed KNPP to issue the tender for additional spent fuel storage, needed to eventually house the fuel to be discharged from the four units. Proposals for the spent fuel storage are in February 2003. Novak said that will be when it is important for the PMU to be in place and prepared to begin reviewing bids.

In the Slovak Republic, the third country with Soviet-design reactors that the EU evaluated as being unupgradable at a reasonable cost, decommissioning work on the two VVER-440s at Bohunice V1 is behind schedule. These reactors are due to close in 2008 and 2010 respectively.

Novak said EBRD has presented a project pipeline for Bohunice for the contributors' assembly, beginning with a project for a transformer station deemed necessary to modify the Slovakian grid after the units are shut.

Initial projects at Bohunice will be connected with the need to separate the two units, because of the staggered shutdown schedule.

The Bohunice International Decommissioning Support Fund currently has about E120 million available for contracting, but Novak said that was "only the first tranche" of the projected programme.

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