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Bulgarians back plans for a nuclear plant by referendum

In a historic referendum, the plan for the Belene nuclear plant has been backed by the voting majority. Due to the low turn-out, the decision is now referred to Parliament.

18.02.2013 |EurActiv.com




The construction of a new nuclear power plant is based on old plans and loaded with long-standing quarrels between politicians, the nuclear energy lobby, and the local population. The issue of its construction has now been put to a referendum in which 60% of the voters backed the plans. However the turnout was so low that the decision reached is not binding and is referred to Parliament now.

The nuclear power plant at Belene on the Danube River was subject of the nation’s first referendum in modern history. The rising costs for the construction of the Belene facility resulted in a freezing of the building works. The power plants core elements were supposed to be delivered by Russia, and many criticized the corrupt commissioning process of the facility’s construction. Yet, building a new nuclear power plant could provide the country with a higher energy security and generate income from producing and selling surplus energy.

The referendum itself had progressively been turned into a pre-election opinion poll. Some parties had called for a boycott which resulted in a 20% voting turnout. The turnout is too low to have legally binding effects, which is why the matter has now been referred to Parliament.

Also local people are involved in the struggle with the nuclear power plant, such as Albena Simeonova who is an organic farmer. As many other organic farmers, she would lose her business if the plans of the construction of the nuclear power plant would go through in direct proximity to her land. Involved with anti nuclear campaigns she has also already received death threats from companies participating in the building plans.

Read more about this matter here and have a look at WECF’s publications on nuclear energy, in which also Albena Simeonova is interviewed.


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