Nuclear energy debate in Sofia postponed

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A debate on the pros and cons of building Belene nuclear power plant was scheduled for April 2 at Sofia University, but just hours before it scheduled start, the organiser University Environmental Club UNECO said that it had to be postponed due to the “lack of participants defending the pro-Belene position”.

Atanas Semov, chairperson of the "committee for salvation of third and fourth unites of Kozloduy nuclear power plant", as well as representatives of the Economy and Energy Ministry were invited to defend their position, while Greenpeace energy expert Jan Haverkamp was ready to argue against nuclear energy. Petko Kovachev, the chairperson of Green Policy Institute, was to join Haverkamp.

The debate was to be translated in English, with representatives of any institutions, companies or individuals were free to attend to express opinions and ask questions.

On April 2, UNECO chairperson Borislav Sandov told The Sofia Echo that Semov called him in the last moment, apologising that he would not be able to attend the discussion, as he had an urgent engagement in the same evening. Meanwhile, Sandov did not receive any response from the economy ministry, even though he contacted the ministry a week in advance.

One source familiar with the process, who spoke to The Sofia Echo on condition of remaining anonymous, said that ministry officials had been in touch with Sofia University rector Ivan Dimitrov earlier in the day to ask him whether he if the debate planned to “reprimand them”.

Bulgaria is now looking for strategic investors for the construction of its planned second nuclear power plant near the Danube town of Belene. The country wants to remain the main electricity exporter at the Balkans and thus gain independence, even though such independence is quite questionable, as Bulgaria imports the raw material for nuclear industry from Russia, as well as has signed an agreement for using Russian technology in constructing the new power plant. The problem with storing nuclear waste, however, remains on the agenda unsolved.

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