Thousand ask for the restart of units 3 and 4 of Bulgarian nuclear power plant
- By Jack Bryar -
While university students were protesting outside Parliament on January 18 2009, several thousand people gathered outside the National Palace of Culture (NDK) to ask for the restart of units 3 and 4 of Bulgaria's only nuclear power plant in Kozloduy on the Danube River.
The units were shut down as part of the deal for Bulgaria's accession to the European Union in 2007 and ever since then the issue whether it was the right thing to do has been the subject of much debate in Bulgaria.The halted Russian natural gas supplies to Bulgaria since January 6 2009 has made President Georgi Purvanov and Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev put the issue back on the agenda.
The NDK rally was organised by the newly-formed political alliance Napred, featuring several minor parties in opposition, as well as the Lider party backed by energy tycoon Hristo Kovachki, who owns the coal-powered Bobov Dol thermal power plant and a number of coal mines.
The rally started at NDK and ended outside the Cabinet building and was also backed by the of the country's main trade unions, Podkrepa and the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB), who refused to join university students' protest on January 14 2009.
Unlike the students' rally, which saw no communication between the protesters and members of the Cabinet, the Napred protest was warmly received by Stanishev. TV cameras showed Stanishev receiving a delegation of the Napred protesters in his office, where he told them what the Government was doing to cope with the energy crisis.
On January 19 2009, Kovachki told Bulgarian National Television that Bulgaria need not concentrate its efforts solely on the restart of Kozloduy's units 3 and 4 but on trying to restart some of the mothballed units of its thermal power plants, such as the one in Bobov Dol.
The same as with Kozloduy Bulgaria, had to shut down units at thermal power plants for environmental reasons. When the Bobov Dol units were shut down, the thermal power plant was still owned by the state. As of January 2009, however, the plant was officially sold to Kovachki for the price of 100 million leva.
“We have made commitments to the EU to switch the production of some of the thermal power plants from coal to natural gas within a few years, which for me makes no sense,” Kovachki told BNT.
According to him, Bulgaria had coal supplies that could still be used in thermal power plants. As for the issue whether natural gas was more environmentally clean way of producing energy than coal, he said that installations must be built in order to reduce the level of pollution.