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Socialists, Russians Blast Bulgarian Govt for Stalling Belene NPP

Date: 25.07.2010

The Belene Nuclear Power Plant project is vastly beneficial to Bulgaria but is delayed by the Borisov government for political reasons, according to Socialist MP Rumen Petkov.

Speaking in the northern city of Pleven Sunday, Petkov, a local MP and a former Interior Minister, declared that the German energy company RWE was interested anew in the Belene project, as cited by Darik Radio.

In 2008, Bulgaria's National Electric Company NEK selected RWE as a strategic foreign investor and the shareholder of a 49% stake in Belene in exchange of about EUR 2 B. Subsequently, however, in the fall of 2009, the Germany energy giant backed out. Petkov did not provide specifics about RWE's alleged renewed interest in the project.

He gave a news conference in Pleven together with Prof. Zahari Zahariev, chair of the Federation for Friendship with the People of Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Vyacheslav Shtelkov, head of the Russian scientific center Rokor.

“The problem with the Belene nuclear plant at the moment is not finding money. It is not about economic feasibility, or financial resources, or safety requirements, it is a political matter,” stated Zahariev while claiming that two US companies were ready and even competing to get a stake of up to 40 % in the future plant. However, he refused to disclose their names or the source of his information.

Russian energy expert Vyacheslav Shtelkov said in turn that the future 1000 MW nuclear reactor to be constructed in Belene was extremely environment-friendly, and could work for 50 years.

Socialist MP Petkov defended the Belene project by saying that it is going to reduce Bulgaria's greenhouse gas emissions by 40%, which would allow the country to meet EU's environment regulations.

In his words, the Belene NPP will provide employment for as many as 42 000 people. In the first five years it will employ 6 000 - 8 000 people. After that their number will grow to 15 - 20 000. He estimated that BGN 2.5 B will be invested directly in the Bulgarian economy in the first 4 years of the project.

Petkov declared that the delay of the start of the construction by one more year will send a very negative message, and will the project more expensive.

He said that nuclear energy was becoming more and more popular even in European countries which deemed it unacceptable.

Speaking on Nova TV Sunday, Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov declared that the government was convinced that the Belene plant will be beneficial to Bulgaria, and that it was going to go for it as soon as it could find a strategic investor from Western Europe that would help out with the funding.

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