Bulgaria has commissioned a new plasma melting plant at the site of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant in Bulgaria, for treatment and disposal of radioactive waste.


Image: The Kozloduy nuclear site in Bulgaria. Photo: courtesy of The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The €31m plasma melting plant uses plasma technology to significantly reduce the volume of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste generated from the Kozloduy VVER-440 reactors 1 to 4 which were closed between 2002 and 2006, and reactors 5 and 6 which currently in operation.

Commissioning of the new facility, which has a capacity of up to 250 tons per year, follows completion of successful operational testing.

The power plant’s units 1 to 4 are being decommissioned with the support of the international donor community led by the European Union through European Bank for Reconstruction and Developmen (EBRD)-managed Kozloduy International Decommissioning Support Fund (KIDSF).

EBRD said in a statement: “The fund finances and co-finances decommissioning projects in Kozloduy and projects to reform and modernise the supply and demand side of energy use in Bulgaria.”

The fund has provided 65% of the financing for the plasma plant while the remaining was provided by the Bulgarian government.

Designed for treatment of waste with a reduced radioactive contamination risk, the plasma technology involves melting and oxidizing metals.

The concrete debris, sand, inorganic granulates, insulation material and asbestos are melted and transformed into a chemically inert and amorphous glassy slag.

The next stage involves vaporization of the liquids and organic materials so the final product is organics-free. The final waste also complies with strict quality and stability requirements for long-term storage or final disposal.

The plasma plant is jointly owned by Spain’s Iberdrola Ingeniería y Construcción and Belgium’s Belgoprocess, and will be operated by the State Enterprise Radioactive Waste (SERAW) entity.

SERAW is responsible for the decommissioning of Kozloduy units 1 to 4 and the national radioactive waste disposal facility.

Bulgaria is also constructing a new national radioactive waste repository, which is planned to be commissioned in 2021.