Bulgaria has become the 34th member of the Paris-based OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). With its several decades of experience operating VVER units, Bulgaria will reinforce the NEA’s capacity to address matters related to pressurized water reactor technologies and their operational characteristics, according to the NEA on January 4.
In addition, the NEA said that it will support Bulgaria’s efforts in technical and policy areas, including work to address nuclear skills capacity building, the development and application of nuclear data and simulation codes, and issues related to radioactive waste management, decommissioning, and nuclear economics.
Words of welcome: “Bulgaria shares the same continuous improvement and future-oriented mindset as the NEA membership,” said the agency’s director general, William D. Magwood. “We are very pleased to have another country from this important region of the world join us, and we look forward to the contributions its experts will bring to the work of the NEA.”
Angel Gurría, secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said, “Bulgaria’s membership will enrich the NEA’s work in areas such as nuclear safety and regulation, decommissioning, and radioactive waste management. The accession of Bulgaria to the agency also underlines the developing cooperation between Bulgaria and the OECD.”
Background: Bulgaria has one nuclear power plant, Kozloduy, home to two operating reactors—Unit 5, a 963-MWe pressurized water reactor, and Unit 6, a 1,003-MWe PWR. Both are Russian-designed VVER-1000s. The plant also includes four retired units, all VVER-440s. Units 1 and 2 were shut down in early 2004, and Units 3 and 4 at the end of 2006.
The country has ongoing plans to build a new reactor at the Kozloduy site, as well as two units at a site in the town of Belene.
In case you missed it: During a visit to Kozloduy last October, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov declared, “We are going to construct [Kozloduy Unit 7] using a technology that is completely different—the reactor will be American.” The following day, the Bulgarian government instructed state-owned Bulgarian Energy Holding to begin discussions with U.S. nuclear technology companies regarding options for reactor construction. Later that month, the U.S. and Bulgarian governments signed a nuclear cooperation memorandum of understanding.