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“Historic moment” for Bulgaria’s nuclear sector as Kozloduy NPP secures new nuclear fuel supply

The operator of Bulgaria’s only nuclear power plant in Kozloduy (north-eastern Bulgaria), AEC Kozloduy EAD and the Sweden-based US nuclear company, Westinghouse Electric Sweden signed a deal on the supply of fresh nuclear fuel for Unit 5 of the site.

“Today is a significant day for the Bulgarian nuclear energy industry,” said the Bulgarian Minister of Energy, Rosen Hristov. “We are taking a major step forward towards the security and diversification of supplies of fresh nuclear fuel for unit 5 of the nuclear power plant.”

The contract was signed by Georgi Kirkov, Executive Director of Kozloduy NPP and Aziz Dag, Managing Director of Westinghouse Electric Sweden. According to Georgi Kirkov, Bulgaria “has finally taken a real step towards the diversification of fresh nuclear fuel”. For his part, Mr Azis Dag announced that the signing of the contract is a “historic moment” for Bulgarian nuclear energy.

“I believe that the cooperation between the Kozloduy NPP and Westinghouse will only bring benefits to the Bulgarian society,” he said, emphasising the 40-year operational experience of the nuclear fuel that Westinghouse will supply to the Kozloduy nuclear power plant (NPP).

According to a press release by the Bulgarian Ministry of Energy, the agreement is part of the Kozloduy NPP program for the diversification of fresh nuclear fuel supplies, agreed with the EURATOM Supply Agency (ESA) and in accordance with the decision of the National Assembly of Bulgaria in September to accelerate the process of securing an alternative supplier.

“I can boldly state that we have successfully completed the assigned tasks,” added Minister Hristov. “We have fulfilled the commitment made to the European Agency for Diversification of Fresh Nuclear Fuel for unit 5 of the nuclear power plant, under entirely favourable conditions and in compliance with all nuclear safety requirements.”

According to the Minister, Westinghouse is committed to the complex supply of fresh nuclear fuel for unit 5 of the Kozloduy NPP, which includes the provision of the enriched uranium material, assembly of the cartridges and their delivery to the site of the Kozloduy NPP. In practice, this is the same as the current model of the plant’s operation, which will allow easier management of the entire process.

The Energy Minister also emphasised that as a result of the conducted procedure, the economic conditions under the contract have been significantly improved compared to the offer received in July. According to Rosen Hristov, Westinghouse will provide a free implementation of their internal reactor control system. In order to ensure nuclear safety, this system will be implemented next year and will work in parallel with the current system. This will enable staff to be trained and technology to be synchronised. 

“We made a lot of efforts to ensure the smooth and safe implementation of the new nuclear fuel without interrupting the work process of the plant,” he concluded.

The document enters into force after it is signed by the EURATOM Supply Agency and is valid for a 10-year period.

Mr Hristov also announced the upcoming signing of another fresh nuclear fuel supply deal with the French company, Framatome, for unit 6 of the Kozloduy NPP.

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