Bulgarian PM Oresharski denies deal with Westinghouse done

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister, Plamen Oresharski, denied the claim that a deal has been agreed with US firm Westinghouse to build a new nuclear reactor at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant.

Facing opposition criticism and threats of getting the European Commission involved, Oresharski was forced to reiterate that the Cabinet has not yet decided how to proceed on the issue of building unit 7 at Kozloduy and how to pick a contractor, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported on November 26.

To be fair, Economy Minister Dragomir Stoynev – who said that he secured Westinghouse’s agreement during a trip to the US last week – at no point gave an indication that the Government had made up its mind.

He did say, however, that he would recommend skipping the public tender stage to pick the contractor, believing that such a process was unnecessary. Oresharski did not say whether he would endorse Stoynev’s proposal.

Speaking to Bulgarian reporters in Bucharest, where he is attending a meeting of Central European heads of state with Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang, Oresharski said that the issue of a public tender would be discussed by the Cabinet, but added that he wanted “the nuclear sector to be diversified, not with one supplier and operator”.

Kozloduy currently has two 1000MW Soviet-made reactors and the proposed plant at Belene – frozen in 2012 by Government and Parliament decisions – was also to use Russian technology. Westinghouse, picked in August 2012 to carry out the feasibility study of adding another unit at Kozloduy, had previously put forth its own AP1000 reactor design as a candidate.

Stoynev’s announcement drew sharp criticism from the opposition parties, including GERB, the party whose government which shelved Belene and awarded Westinhouse the Kozldoduy feasibility study. GERB said that it planned to notify the European Commission of Bulgaria’s apparent plans to build the new reactor without public tender or the EC’s explicit approval.

Asked to comment, a smiling Oresharski said that it was a novel occurrence of “criticism for something we have carried on with.”

On November 25, Oresharski met with his Romanian counterpart Victor Ponta to discuss bilateral relations and asked Romanian authorities to speed up their study of the environmental impact caused by a possible new reactor at Kozloduy, BNT reported.

(Plamen Oresharski. Photo: government.bg)



The Sofia Globe staff

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