Bulgaria's only nuclear power plant is so unsafe that it should be shut down if improvements are not made immediately, a Bulgarian lawmaker and foreign officials said Friday.
Experts have insisted for some time that the plant at Kozloduy, 125 miles north of Sofia, is dangerously outdated, ill-equipped and understaffed."The situation in Kozloduy is horrifying. The risk is enormous," Krasen Stanchev, chairman of Parliament's Environmental Commission, said in an interview.
"At the moment there is no danger of a nuclear accident, but if the four reactors continue operation, no one knows what can happen."
The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement in Vienna, Austria, that its inspectors had discovered hazardous defects during a recent three-week review of four of the plant's five reactors.
Two of the four 440-megawatt reactors, the oldest Soviet-made reactors still in operation, have been shut down, apparently temporarily, the U.N. agency said.
In addition to the four older reactors, the plant has one newer-generation 1,000-megawatt Soviet reactor with full-pressure containments but a shortage of personnel.
"The IAEA team found the plants in very poor condition with a number of safety-relevant deficiencies," the statement said, adding that the agency had "urged the Bulgarian government to take immediate measures."
An agency official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the regulatory body believed it was "imprudent to continue operating" the reactors.
Officials of Bulgaria's Energy Committee in Sofia played down the danger of a nuclear accident at the plant."I have no fears that the units are not safe," said Zhak Karakashev, the committee's deputy chairman.
Adding to the plant's woes, many Bulgarian experts have quit their jobs at the plant because of low pay and poor working conditions. Soviet experts working on the Soviet-built reactors left months ago as Bulgaria moved further away from its Soviet orientation.
Germany's environment minister, Klaus Toepfer has also urged that the Kozloduy reactors be shut down, according to his spokesman, Berthold Goeke.