Bulgaria launches work on new nuclear power plant

Sofia  - The Bulgarian government Wednesday launched the construction of the nuclear power plant at Belene, which Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev described as the "largest project in the last 18 years."

The 5.8-billion-dollar plant with two 1,000 megawatt generators is being built on the Danube 220 kilometres northeast of Sofia. Bulgaria already runs the Russian-built Kosloduy plant some 100 kilometres upstream of Belene.

Bulgaria, a member of the European Union since 2007, awarded the Belene project to the Russian firm Atomexportstroy in late 2006. French and German giants Areva and Siemens were hired as sub- contractors in the project.

The Belene project was launched in the early 1980s and revived in 2002, after shelving it in 1991 amid protests held in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Initially, the builders need to tear down the more than two decades old foundation, before starting the construction in March and completing it in late 2013. (dpa)

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