Plant modernizer’s sale OK’d

SOFIA (AFP) – Bulgaria’s highest court on Monday authorized the sale of the state company charged with renovating its only nuclear plant to a controversial firm, the privatization agency said. A jury of the Supreme Administrative Court overruled the suspension of the sale of Atomenergoremont, which is modernizing the Kozloduy plant, by another jury three months ago, calling that ruling unjustified. The October decision cited the risk of contravening a law protecting state secrets if the firm was sold to Energy Company, which in June launched an offer to take over 70 percent of the company. The Bulgarian press has reported that alleged drug baron Konstantin Dimitrov, murdered in Amsterdam in December, had been one of Energy Company’s shareholders. Kozloduy provides more than 45 percent of Bulgaria’s electricity. The plant has six reactors but the two oldest ones were shut down at the end of 2002. Two other Soviet-era 440-megawatt reactors are due to be shut down in 2006 under an agreement with Brussels made during the course of Bulgaria’s accession negotiations with the EU, which it hopes to join in 2007. That would leave the plant with only two 1000-megawatt reactors. The EU has demanded that both of these be modernized.

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