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Bulgaria Will Hold Referendum on Nuclear Plant Jan. 27

Bulgaria will hold a referendum on whether to build a new nuclear plant on Jan. 27, President Rosen Plevneliev said in e-mailed statement today.

Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s Cabinet canceled on March 28 a 10 billion-euro ($12.25 billion) project to build a 2,000-megawatt nuclear power plant at Belene with Rosatom Corp., Russia’s state nuclear company, after failing to agree on its cost and find Western investors.

The move caused criticism from the opposition socialist party, which said the government deprived the country from an electricity source. Rosatom filed a 1 billion-euro claim on Sept. 11 with the International Court of Arbitration in Paris to cover construction work and production costs on the canceled project.

The socialist party collected about 770,000 signatures under a proposal to hold a referendum on whether to continue with the construction of the Belene plant, which was submitted to Parliament in July. The assembly voted on Oct. 24 to hold a referendum on a new nuclear plant, formulating the question without the mention of Belene.

The government also plans to build new reactor at the existing nuclear plant Kozloduy, in northern Bulgaria.

“The referendum will not address neither the problem with Belene, nor all the development and financing issues related to the new reactor in Kozloduy, because of the way it is formulated, asking a general question,” Ilian Vassilev, managing partner at Innovative Energy Solutions Ltd. in Sofia, said in an e-mail Oct. 24.

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