Monday, May 22, 2006

An accident at the Bulgarian nuclear plant

This news is somewhat old, but it doesn't matter - I am not a news agency.
First, let me paste my comment to Highlander's March 16 post that Libya is going to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes (
"I am sorry to learn this news, because I am an opponent of nuclear power. I remember how Bulgarian authorities concealed the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Several days after the explosion, when the radioactive clouds reached our skies, people and children were forced to march at the May 1st parade under the rain.
We actually have a nuclear plant and are told that it produces the cheapest electricity. Of course, if you do not count the subsidies for nuclear electricity (or any other heavily subsidized product), it will always look the cheapest.
Our nuclear lobby wants to make more money by building a second nuclear plant. It will be located near a nice historical town (I meant Svishtov - M.M.). For that reason, the town has been stripped of funds for decades: let's leave it with no infrastructure, no jobs, no future, so that people move somewhere else and the victims are fewer if the whole damn thing explodes.
When arguing with people brainwashed to believe that nuclear power is a blessing, I ask them: After you approve nuclear power, would you send your brother or son to dig uranium? The answers: the uranium is produced in Russia, the miners are convicts and so on. As if "the others" - Russians or prisoners, are not human beings."
Now, the news: I am translating below parts of Netinfo's May 3 report titled "The nuclear plant managers confessed a March 1 incident and demanded a higher electricity price". The whole text in Bulgarian is available at

"The manager board of the Kozlodui nuclear power station finally, with a delay of 2 months, confessed that an accident occurred at reactor No. 5 on March 1...
At the same time it became known that the Kozlodui plant has demanded from the Government commission for energy and water regulation a 5% higher price for the electricity produced at Kozlodui...
The March 1 accident was not foreseen in the plant project... It was a problem with the protection management system. From a total of 61 protection devices, 22 could not be switched on. The reactor had to be kept off work for 10 days.
The plant managers were accused of cover-up, fierce discussions followed, and the period was put by the Minister of economy and energy Rumen Ovcharov, who declared that "nothing has happened".
The nuclear plant secret was revealed by the former chairman of the Nuclear regulation agency Georgi Kaschiev, who last week told to German and Austrian media what had happened on March 1. Kaschiev, who now works in Vienna, explained the nature and chronology of the accident, now confirmed by the plant managers...
The phenomenon was not foreseen by the plant designers. It happens for the first time in the world practice of nuclear reactors...
The executive manager of the Kozlodui plant Ivan Ivanov tried to explain why information was provided with a delay of 2 months, saying that time was needed to fully clarify the causes for the accident. A week ago in a TV interview he said nothing of the kind and fiercely denied the seriousness of the accident."

I wish to add several things to the above citation.
Georgi Kaschiev said that according to the internationally accepted scale of nuclear accidents from grade 1 to 7 the March 1 accident was grade 3 (Chernobyl was 7).
Kaschiev's testimony was first dismissed not only by the nuclear plant managers and government, but also by the media who are strongly pro-nuclear. It was pointed out that Kaschiev was appointed by Ivan Kostov. The latter was Prime Minister in 1997 - 2001, demonized by the media and, to my opinion, the best politician in recent Bulgarian history.
The events following March 1 illustrate very well why every thinking person should either oppose nuclear electricity or at least hold grave suspicion. You see that after March 1, as after Chernobyl, the efforts of the nuclear plant people and the government were focused not on coping with the accident aftermath, but on concealing and cover-up. This shows that (1) we cannot rely on the official statistics for nuclear accidents, because many may have been successfully covered up and (2) in a case of more serious accident, we cannot expect appropriate actions, because the most valuable time for such actions will be devoted to denial and concealing.

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