Bulgaria court overturns reactor closure deal

A Bulgarian supreme court has overturned a government agreement with the European Union regarding the early closure of two Communist-era nuclear reactors.

Acting on Brussels' demand, Sofia earlier agreed to shut down units 3 and 4 of Bulgaria's Kozloduy nuclear plant. To avoid derailing accession negotiations with the EU, Bulgaria originally agreed to bow to Brussels' safety concerns and close the two nuclear units by 2006. Sofia already closed the two oldest reactors at Kozloduy in December 2002. However, the Bulgarian supreme court ruling now said that the government had ignored an earlier Parliament vote which decreed that the reactors should be kept open and operational until Bulgaria's EU accession, set for 2007. The plant at issue produces around half of Bulgaria's electricity, and its closure would raise energy prices and would thus spark off domestic tensions. The government in Sofia considers the reactor closure a necessary sacrifice, while the opposition considers the deal a betrayal. The government now has 14 days to appeal the court ruling.


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