The communist-era logo of Bulgaria's second nuclear station.
Faced with the prospect of shutting down four nuclear reactors at its sole nuclear power plant at Kozloduy as a pre-requisite for European Union accession, Bulgaria's government decided in 2003 to resurrect the idea of building a second plant at Belene, on the Danube River.
The project has been criticised extensively as unsafe, too expensive and economically unfeasible, as well as for effectively shutting out Western nuclear companies through the choice of the light-water technology, which saw Russia's state-owned company Atomstroyexport awarded the contract almost by default.
Atomstroyexport would build the two 1000MW reactors for a fixed sum of four billion euro, but the total costs of the project, including the clearing of old construction, building the necessary infrastructure and the costs of disposing of processed nuclear fuel were estimated to reach at least seven billion euro and, potentially, as high as 10 billion euro.
The global credit crunch has made securing bank funding for the project untenable, while the change of government in 2009 has put in power a Cabinet that was even less willing to extend Budget guarantees for the project. A re-evaluation of the project was ordered, with a new strategy and a search for new strategic investors to come in the future.