EU accession brings early reactor closures

05 January 2007

Some of the older reactors in Bulgaria and Slovakia were shut down on 31 December 2006 as part of the agreement for accession into the European Union (EU) of those two countries.

Bulgaria became part of the EU on 1 January 2007, and honoured its commitment to shutdown Kozloduy 3 and 4 before joining. The V-230 design 440 MWe reactor units did not meet EU standards.

The similar closure of Slovakia's unit 1 of the Bohunice plant's V1 block was part of the agreement that allowed it to acceed to the EU in 2004. That reactor was also of V-230 design, while the two units of the V2 block have been extensively modernised.

Cernavoda 1, in Romania, was unaffected by the accession process, it being a pressurised heavy water Candu design of Canadian origin, while the shutdown units are all VVER pressurised water reactors supplied by the former Soviet Union.

Rumen Ovcharov, Bulgarian Minister of Economy and Energy, said his country would be pressing for twice the compensation promised by the European Commission for closing reactors at its only nuclear plant, unless the Kozloduy units were allowed to reopen. Electricity shortages were signaled as the justification for this decision, with strong demand coming from Kosovo and Macedonia, in addition to Bulgaria's national demand.

Russia's Atomstroyexport has been chosen to supply two reactors at Bulgaria's Belene site. Supplying about 1000 MWe each, they are scheduled to deliver power in 2011 and 2013 and will fill a gap in energy supply left by the early closure of the older reactors.

Lubomir Jahnatek, Slovakian Economy Minister, described the shutdown at Bohunice as "one of the saddest days" for Slovakia. The Prime Minister, Robert Fico, said that he respected the decision to shut down the plant, but considered it as "energy treason" by the previous government, with Slovakia now becoming an electricity importer. Slovakia had undertaken to close both reactors, which between them supplied 20% of national electricity requirements, on signing the 1999 EU accession agreement.

Two more modern VVER-1000 reactors at Bohunice and at Mochovce will continue to operate. In addition there are plans to complete two further reactors at Mochovce. Construction of these two reactors has been dormant for the past decade.

Further information

WNA's Nuclear Power in Bulgaria information paper
 Nuclear Power in Romania information paper
 Nuclear Power in Slovakia information paper