SLOVAKIA closed the first of four reactors at the nuclear power stations in Jaslovské Bohunice in 2006, and the second in 2008. It committed itself to closing and decommissioning the two V1 reactors in 1999, prior to its accession to the EU, even though they were undergoing extensive upgrades that were only completed in 2000. The decommissioning process has proved demanding in terms of time as well as money. The complete dismantling and safe liquidation of the reactors and facilities related to the entire V1 nuclear power plant is projected to last until 2025 and cost €1.1 billion. The EU undertook to foot a large part of the bill for decommissioning, and on July 15 and 16 members of the European Parliament Committee on Budgetary Control visited Slovakia to check how EU funds were being spent on the process, to see what progress Slovakia has made, and to examine how financing for the process may develop in future years. For now, Slovakia has secured funds to cover decommissioning until 2020, but an expected €130 million in costs have not yet been budgeted for.
“The decommissioning project in Bohunice is more successful than similar projects in
Lithuania and Bulgaria,” Jens Geier, the head of the delegation of the European Parliament Committee for Budgetary Control, told a news conference on July 16, as quoted by the SITA newswire.
Geier praised the technical and organisational management of the project, which he said “knows precisely what it wants”.
EP delegation member Vojtech Mynář echoed Geier’s praise, adding that the process could serve as a model for the decommissioning of other nuclear power plants.
“In Jaslovské Bohunice, Slovakia, I met with maximum technical expertise and organisational skill among the management, which knows exactly what it wants,” said Mynář, as quoted by TASR. “The process is well-thought out from A to Z. These experiences will serve when conceiving a specific how-to model concerning the decommissioning of other nuclear facilities in Europe, of which there are dozens. EU states will certainly demand that Europe should participate in some way and for various reasons in their decommissioning.”
MEP Ingeborg Grasle, however, said she believed that the decommissioning of the V1 plant could proceed at a faster pace. She also pointed out that Slovakia need not obtain all the missing €130 million from the EU.
The decommissioning process in Slovakia is being conducted by the state-owned Nuclear and Decommissioning Company (JAVYS) and is divided into two stages. During the first, lasting from July 2011 until the end of December 2014, all inactive components have been removed and structures that will not be needed for future decommissioning activities (cooling towers and turbine hall equipment) are being demolished, JAVYS states on its website.
The second stage will last from January 2015 until the end of 2025. It will focus in particular on the removal of radioactive components and the demolition of all remaining structures.
The EU contributes to decommissioning of V1 through the Bohunice International Decommissioning Support Fund (BIDSF), which is managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), SITA wrote. So far, it has concluded a total of 20 grant agreements and allocated funding from BIDSF has amounted to more than €464 million. Slovakia is also financing some of the decommissioning costs of the two reactors via JAVYS and the National Nuclear Fund, the Sme daily wrote. It plans to raise €363 million in total, including via special fees which are part of the price for electricity paid by electricity consumers in Slovakia. The EU has promised to allocate an additional €200 million.
The Economy Ministry does not see the estimated funding gap of €130 million as a problem for now.
“The [€130 million] will be needed only after 2020,” said ministry spokesperson Stanislav Jurikovič, as quoted by Sme. “Slovakia has by then to decide how to complete the financing of the project.”
Construction of the two reactors of the V1 plant in Jaslovské Bohunice, a project which carried an original price tag of 5.5 billion Czechoslovak crowns, was launched in April 1972. The first reactor was connected to the grid on December 17, 1978 and the second on March 26, 1980. During its operation, the V1 power plant generated a total of more than 159 million megawatt-hours of electricity, equal to approximately 5.7 years of electricity consumption by the whole country.
Another nuclear power station, the V2 plant, was subsequently built next to the V1 plant. It is still running and is operated by Slovenské Elektrárne. It is currently projected to continue operating until the end of 2025, the Pravda daily reported. Slovakia has another nuclear power plant in Mochovce, near Levice, which is also operated by Slovenské Elektrárne. Two reactors are currently in operation there; another two are under construction.
The V1 is not the only nuclear power station in Slovakia currently undergoing decommissioning. The first nuclear facility constructed in Slovakia, the A1, which is also in Jaslovské Bohunice, is also being dismantled under the supervision of JAVYS. The A1 plant only operated for five years before a major nuclear incident in 1977 led to its closure. The A1 was designed as a test reactor to verify the possibility of using natural uranium as a fuel for energy production. Construction of the plant started in 1958 and it was connected to the power grid in late 1972. The decommissioning processes at the V1 and A1 plants differ as the closure of the V1 was planned, while the A1 was closed down after the nuclear incident.