Friday, January 16, 2009

Into Every Life Some Gas Must Fall

83673 And some days must be dark and dreary – like when your behemoth neighbor to the east decides to cut off the natural gas spigot – so you must find your own sun behind the clouds:

Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev said on Friday that his country would restart a Soviet-era nuclear power reactor at Kozloduy, in the face of severe ongoing gas shortages due to the energy dispute between Ukraine and Russia.

Normally, we’d recoil from anything that has “Soviet-era” next to it as a adjective, but this plant hasn’t been idle since the Brezhnev years – it only closed in 2007 (as a preliminary to joining the European Union – we’re not sure why – perhaps “Soviet-era” spooked them, too). Moreover, earlier in the decade the Bulgarians worked with the IAEA to ensure the plants came up to modern standards. (You can read a lot more about all of this here.)

So this isn’t a case of the plant shaking with the strain of age and throwing control rods through its walls. We’d guess they have to get EU permission to reopen it, but the story doesn’t quite say.

Regarding the decision to restart the reactor, [President Georgi] Parvanov said Bulgaria did not want a 'nuclear energy conflict' with the EU, which opposes such moves, but also asked 'how much more serious will this crisis become?'

Bulgaria has another plant coming on line in 2014, so assuming they can get this one switched back on, it may only be until Russia behaves or the new plant opening. But it certainly reminds Bulgaria – as it does Slovakia, which we noted yesterday – that it doesn’t have to depend much on any other country to keep the nuclear plants going and the sun still shining. It just takes the will to do it – and the patter of a little rain falling.

From Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Be still, sad heart, and cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all; Into each life some rain must fall; Some days must be dark and dreary.

A rainy day in Bulgaria – really!

2 comments:

Robert Synnott said...

As the plants are odd Soviet-era things, of course, they are probably still dependent on Russia for fuel.

Joffan said...

The Bulgarians can restart Kozluduy in the case of a national emergency. Having your entire gas supply would count for me; it will be interesting to see how the anti-nuclear elements of the European Parliament try to answer (or, morelikely, avoid) that argument.