Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on January 6 2013 that members of the country’s centre-right ruling party GERB had been ordered to vote no in a referendum on further development of Bulgaria’s nuclear power station capacity.
The January 27 2013 referendum is a sequel to a major national political drama around the future of the long-planned Belene nuclear power station.
Bulgaria has a nuclear power station at Kozloduy, of which four units were shut down as a condition for the country’s admission in 2007 to the European Union.
Plans for a new power station at Belene on the Danube have been on the drawing board since the communist era, and after a hiatus, were revived by the Saxe-Coburg administration in 2003. However, driven the threatened financial burden and a lack of serious investment, Borissov’s GERB Cabinet said in March 2012 that it was drawing a line under the project.
The saga took a new twist when a mystery investor, said to be a US company but with significant links to Bulgarian figures who have advocated the continuation of Russian-linked Belene, emerged. Through the summer of 2012, the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party gathered signatures for a national referendum on reviving Belene.
The referendum is to be held, although the specific mention of Belene has been excised from the question, which is about the general principle of further development of nuclear power capacity in Bulgaria.
“As far as the referendum is concerned, my instruction to the party will be to say no,” Borissov told a local television station on January 5.
“No, no, no – I say it clearly. Speaking outside the referendum, we back the idea for construction of a seventh reactor at the already existing Kozloduy NPP,” Borissov said.
Sergei Stanishev, former prime minister and leader of the opposition socialist party, reacted by saying that GERB did not want new nuclear energy and wanted Bulgaria’s electricity price to be determined by renewable energy “which is much pricier,” he said.
Opinion poll suggest that most Bulgarian support further development of nuclear energy. Belene has long been controversial not only for its Russian links but also because the proposed site for development is regarded by anti-nuke lobbyists as seismologically unsound.
(Photo: European People’s Party)