Sofia sacks Kozloduy boss for delays on EU commitments

SOFIA – Bulgaria’s government sacked the chief executive of its Soviet-era Kozloduy nuclear power plant, Ivan Ivanov, for foot-dragging on commitments to shut down reactors ahead of EU entry, officials said yesterday. In a May 16 report, the European Commission delayed a decision on whether Sofia should join the bloc in 2007 or in 2008. The EU executive said it needed to see more progress on various issues including Bulgaria’s commitment to close two of Kozloduy’s six reactors by the end of the year. «The dismissal of the chief executive was decided following criticism in the EU Commission’s monitoring report,» said Economy and Energy Ministry spokeswoman Elena Yotova. The new nuclear plant’s chief executive was due to be announced later yesterday at a (Kozloduy) managing board meeting, she said. The Black Sea state has already shut down two 1,000-megawatt reactors at Kozloduy. But despite agreeing to approve a strategy by June 15 on how to decommission two more 440-megawatt units, neither the Cabinet nor Kozloduy’s management has announced a plan. The Socialist-led government has also made clear its reluctance to mothball the units, particularly because Kozloduy generates 40 percent of Bulgaria’s electricity and makes it the top power exporter in Southeastern Europe. But it is under pressure to address the Commission’s complaints before a new October deadline or have entry delayed by a year, and the sacking of Ivanov may demonstrate its intention to speed up the process. The European Commission has customarily demanded that candidate states, including Lithuania and Slovakia, shut down older reactors at Soviet-designed plants early for safety reasons. Newer units are allowed to stay on line longer and Kozloduy’s two remaining 1,000-megawatt blocks are expected to operate into the next decade. Also yesterday, Kozloduy said it had reactivated a 440-megawatt reactor on the national grid after a one-and-a-half month interruption for planned repair and refueling. «All of the other three units are operating according to the work schedule,» the state-owned plant said in a statement.

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