Bulgaria Admits Accident At Nuclear Plant

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Bulgaria Admits Accident At Nuclear Plant

SOFIA, Sep 7, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) A recent accident at Bulgaria's Kozloduy nuclear power plant irradiated one or two staff, a senior official said Wednesday, admitting a growing safety problem at the ageing Soviet-era site.

The accident at the plant, on the Danube river on Bulgaria's northern border with Romania, occurred "recently" and resulted in radioactivity in an office area, he said.

Radiation was "recorded dozens of meters outside the reactor room, in an administrative building," said Georgy Kaschiev, head of the national body tasked with overseeing atomic energy security.

"Members of the working team, one or two people, were irradiated," he added, without specifying further details or exactly when the incident occurred.

There was a "worrying tendency towards a worsening of safety" at the plant, he said.

The Kozloduy plant provides 40 percent of the impoverished country's electricity needs. It comprises four ageing 440 Megawatt reactors and two more modern 1,000 Megawatt units.

Sofia signed an accord with the European Commission last November pledging to shut reactors 1 and 2, which have been in operation since 1974-76, by 2003, while pledging a decision soon on the other two ageing reactors.

Kaschiev also admitted that a "similar" incident occurred two years ago, resulting in a "very strong increase in radioactivity levels across the whole plant."

"It is very regrettable that the number of serious safety incidents has increased" in recent months, he said.

According to Kaschiev, 50 incidents including equipment failures have occurred since the start of the year, against 62 during the whole of last year. ((c) 2000 Agence France Presse)


-- Doris (reaper1@mindspring.com), September 07, 2000

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