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Bulgaria: Russian Nuclear Fuel Shipment Arrives

Sofia, 11 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Bulgaria's Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant is preparing to restart its sixth reactor following the arrival from Russia of a plane yesterday carrying nuclear fuel.

A spokesman at the Bulgarian National Electric Company confirms that four air shipments of radioactive material have been transported from Russia to Bulgaria during the past month. The company says refueling could take about three weeks before the sixth reactor comes on line.

A month ago, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) amended its requirements on nuclear shipments in a way that permits increased air shipments. At the same time, the IAEA toughened its requirements on the containers that carry nuclear fuel.

But the International Federation of Airline Pilots and several environmental groups say the new standards are dangerously inadequate for air shipments. They say that if a plane were to crash at more than 50 kilometers an hour, the containers would fail and a major ecological catastrophe would result.