A new dry spent nuclear fuel storage facility was officially launched at Bulgaria's Kozloduy NPP by the country's PM, Boyko Borisov, and Economy and Energy Minister, Traicho Traikov.
The measure aims at implementing greater nuclear safety.
The German NUKEM Technologies-GNS has been contracted by Bulgaria to build the depot, which will cost EUR 70.5 M. The new facility will accommodate casks with spent fuel from the plant's four closed units, currently stored in wet pools, and will be subsequently enlarged to receive casks from the active Units 5 and 6.
The new depot will have the capacity to take over 5,200 spent fuel assemblies in 72 steel and heavy concrete casks safely for 50 years.
"The facility is important for the development of nuclear energy, because it shows our responsibility for ensuring safety in the nuclear units," Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said at the opening ceremony.
"We need to soberly analyze the future of nuclear energy. It is very easy to give in to emotions in the wake of Fukushima nuclear disaster," Borisov said.
Bulgaria used to keep its radioactive waste in pools and send it to Russia for further processing and storage, but stopped to do so after Moscow threatened a hike in fees.
"The new depot will have a positive economic impact as it would help us ship the waste when fees are low enough," Energy Minister Traicho Traikov said.
The project is financed by the Kozloduy International Decommissioning Support Fund administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The 440-MW Soviet-era Units 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Kozloduy NPP were shut down in 2002 and 2006 on EU insistence leaving the only operational NPP in Bulgaria with two 1000-MW reactors.
In March, it was reported Bulgaria could use the equipment already ordered for its intended second nuclear power plant in Belene in order to build a new, seventh reactor in Kozloduy. (Source: Sofia News Agency)