Scientists Confirm Seismic Safety of Belene N-plant Site, Environmentalists Protest in Brussels

A team of the Institute of Geophysics (IG) of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences has confirmed that the site of the future Belene nuclear power plant and the 30-km area around are seismically safe, the National Electricity Company said Friday.

The IG conclusion is based on observations from November 2006 to the end of October 2007.
The Belene site is on the stable part of the Moesian Plate where no seismic activity has been observed, the IG said.

In a separate development, environmentalists are meeting outside the European Commission building in Brussels on Friday afternoon to urge the Commission not to give the go-ahead for the construction of the N-plant in Bulgaria.

At a news conference presenting the campaign, Georgi Kaschiev, a nuclear expert at Vienna University and former chief of Bulgaria's Committee for the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy,
said that the construction of Belene would create "intolerable risks to security and environment".

He argued that Bulgaria lacks operational experience with the kind of reactors that is contemplated for Belene, qualified staff and an efficient control system. This will result in low
quality of construction works. "Paired with the high seismic risk of the area around the N-plant and the poor nuclear safety awareness in Bulgaria, the result is one: the project should not
be implemented," he said. He went on to mention more technical, economic and political considerations against the Belene project.

The anti-Belene party also includes the German environmental organization Urgewald, Greenpeace and a Bulgarian coalition entitled "No to Belene!".

Bulgaria is awaiting a European Commission approval to go ahead with the implementation of its 2006 agreement with Atomstroyexport of Russia to build the N-plant. Such approval is
required in pursuance to the EURATOM Agreement, which concerns agreements signed with third countries by a EU member state prior to its accession to the EU, Bulgaria's National Electricity Company said on an earlier occasion.

A spokesman for EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, Ferran Tarradellas, told BTA on Friday that the Commission is expected to be ready with its decision by the end of the year. It intends to take into consideration the objections of the project opponents and for this reason it is meeting them on Friday, he added.

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