Bulgaria pledged to decommission the four Soviet-designed VVER reactors after Commission chief Romano Prodi warned that failure to close them would prevent the country entering the EU (ENDS Daily 14 October 1999). Sofia agreed to shut down two of the reactors in 2003. No date has been set for the second pair, but the European Commission says it "understands" they will be taken out of service by 2006.
Environmentalists have criticised the loan, calling it the "continuation of an inconsistent strategy" which has "failed to assure the closure of any nuclear power plant in the region." By not insisting on a closure date for the second two reactors the EU was "effectively prolonging the lifetime of high-risk reactors in order to finance Bulgaria's electricity export programme," said Patricia Lorenz of Friends of the Earth.
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