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Bulgaria: German Company To Assess Russian Review of Nuclear Plant

By Ivo Indzhev and Ron Synovitz

Sofia, 12 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - Germany's Siemens company says positive results of safety tests at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant by a Russian institute should be considered preliminary.

Kozloduy's six reactors are of Soviet design, and Russia provides the plant's nuclear fuel. Our Sofia correspondent quotes plant Director Kiril Nicolov as saying yesterday that he expects Siemens to announce its assessment early next month.

Kozloduy's reactor number one is undergoing extensive maintenance. Late last month, a fire broke out at the reactor, but officials said no radiation was released.

Meanwhile, the state news agency BTA reports today that Kozloduy's sixth reactor was turned off yesterday after a malfunction in a steam generator. The BTA quotes Kozloduy officials as saying that the incident poses no danger.

At full capacity, Kozloduy generates about 40 percent of Bulgaria's power supply. But malfunctions routinely force shutdowns and cuts in the electricity supply.

The U.S. Energy Department has called Kozloduy a "high stakes gamble" with a "legacy of poor safety culture" that "raises the spectre of another Chernobyl."

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency has recommended the closure of Kozloduy's oldest units. The Group of Seven leading industrial nations also has urged Sofia to close the older reactors, and has offered compensatory power supplies from the West. But Socialist Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's government has, so far, refused.