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One of the most contentious issues since the 1991 implosion of the USSR and the end of the Kremlinâs protectorate over Eastern Europe has been the fate of aging Soviet-era nuclear power plants.
Given that many of the republics and nations were and remain energy poor, the closure of the Soviet-built NPPs has been fraught with consequences.
Kazakhstan's BM-350 135 megawatt reactor was decommissioned in 1999. Lithuania's Ignalina-1 RBMK reactor complex was shut down on 31 December 2004 as a condition of the country joining the European Union and its sister 1,185 megawatt Ignalina-2 RBMK NPP complex was shuttered on 31 December 2009, even though the Ignalina-2 complex provided 72.3 percent of the country's energy needs.
Bulgaria, despite having joined the EU in 2007 and in the wake of the March Fukushima NPP disaster in Japan, is resisting calls to cancel construction of the Belene NPP in Pleven province in the north of the country. Belene is intended to replace four VVER-440 V230 reactors at the Kozloduy NPP that are approaching the end of their service life, Dnevnik newspaper reported.
Last June the Bulgarian government announced that it would freeze indefinitely Belenâs construction due to concerns about investment and construction costs, but in December a non-binding memoranda of understanding was signed between NEK EAD, Rosatom, Altran and Fortum, costing out construction at $8.9 billion.
Now former Russian Federation deputy energy minister Bulat Nigmatulin has spoken about against the project, saying, "The current cost of building new nuclear power plants is devastating," recommending instead developing power plants running on natural gas and water and overhauling existing thermal plants.
By. Charles Kennedy, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com