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US Westinghouse Electric eyes nuclear projects in Bulgaria
by Staff Writers
Sofia (AFP) June 13, 2011

Westinghouse Electric signed on Monday a memorandum of understanding to cooperate with Bulgaria's state energy company in the area of nuclear energy, the government said.

The details of the agreement were not immediately made public, but the US company has long been interested in supplying Bulgaria with a western designed nuclear reactor to replace its decommissioned Soviet-era units.

"We very much look forward to the partnership with the Bulgarian Energy Holding and to discuss cooperation in all fields of nuclear energy," Westinghouse President for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Anders Jackson, told a press conference after the signing.

Jackson said his company was particularly interested in the decommissioning and dismantling of the four old units of Bulgaria's sole nuclear power plant at Kozloduy as well as the modernisation, service and supply of fuel for Kozloduy's remaining two 1,000-megawatt units.

The US company has a small share in a consortium lead by France's EDF and Russia's Rosenergoatom, which emerged recently as a sole bidder in a tender to extend the life of the two Soviet-built units beyond their 2017 and 2019 permit deadlines.

Westinghouse had already helped Bulgaria upgrade the control systems of Kozloduy's still operational reactors five and six.

"Finally, the potential of new (nuclear plant) building is also very exciting in Bulgaria," Jackson added.

Bulgaria, which shut four 440-megawatt reactors at Kozloduy to secure its European Union accession in 2007, plans to build a new 2,000-megawatt plant at Belene, east of Kozloduy on the Danube.

But progress on the project has long been stalled over safety concerns and financial haggling with the Russian builder Atomstroyexport.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov repeated Monday the government's desire to build a new reactor at Kozloduy.

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