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Oct 24, 2022 13:56 EEST
October 24 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria's caretaker government said it repealed a decision by the preceding administration related to the diversification of the supply of fresh nuclear fuel for Bulgaria's Kozloduy sole nuclear power plant (NPP).
The previous decision sought to ban the delivery of fuel and services from Russia, which would be a hurdle to the potential participation of US energy company Westinghouse and which would entirely preclude a bid by French sector player Framatome, the government said in a press release last week.
"Today's cabinet decision provides an efficient competitive environment for existing alternative fuel producers for the VVER-1000 type reactors to participate in the process of diversifying the supply of fresh nuclear fuel for the Kozloduy NPP without compromising safety," the caretaker government said.
Bulgaria currently receives all fresh nuclear fuel for its two Russian-made VVER-1000 reactors at Kozloduy NPP from Russian nuclear fuel cycle company TVEL.
The Swedish division of Westinghouse and France's Framatome, which is majority owned by state-backed utility Electricite de France (EDF), are the only two non-Russian companies that produce nuclear fuel for Kozloduy's VVER-1000 reactors.
Although the nuclear power plant has been looking to diversify the supply of fresh nuclear fuel since 2019, the decision rests with Bulgaria's Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRA).
Westinghouse produces the Robust Westinghouse Fuel Assembly (RWFA) fresh nuclear fuel cartridges that could be used at the Kozloduy NPP if licensed by the NRA, the caretaker government noted. The implementation of this type of cartridges may require consulting services from Russia's Kurchatov Institute, which has a contract with the Kozloduy NPP to enter fuel data into the internal-reactor control system.
Framatome, for its part, has a joint venture with TVEL that produces nuclear fuel cartridges that are the complete analogue of those used at the Kozloduy NPP.
In July, the coalition government led by prime minister Kiril Petkov decided to limit Bulgaria's dependency on suppliers with direct or indirect ties to Russia, in response to efforts by Bulgaria and the European Union to reduce energy dependence on Russia in the context of the Ukraine war.
The interim government's decision to call off the plan for nuclear fuel supply diversification at Kozloduy aims to keep Bulgaria under Russia's influence in nuclear energy, Alexander Nikolov, former energy minister in the Petkov-led government, said as seen in a video file published by private broadcaster bTV on Sunday.
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